DANCES WITH WORDS: In praise of something simple

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Nick Wolochatiuk

The Shaker hymn, “Tis a gift to be simple” isn’t referring to things, but to a way of living. However, this week I’m going to sing the praises of simplicity, a feature not common to today’s life-style and consumer products.

Does your new car have the gift of simplicity, especially when some red flashing lights appear on the instrument panel? Have you mastered the complexity of your computer? Is your income tax form something simple to fill out?

Let me share with you some of my favourite things, no, not “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens…” I mean my favourite simple things.

High on my list of favourite simple things is the pry bar, known as ‘the lever’ in my grade XIII physics class. When used in conjunction with ‘a fulcrum’, I was taught that, if applied properly, in accordance with The Law of the Lever, I could move the world.

To tell you the truth, I haven’t even tried that yet, but I have used my seven foot long pry bar along with some strategically positioned bricks or blocks of wood to achieve some very impressive lifts.

A friend’s back deck had shifted and sunk. She was unable to get a front end loader into her backyard, because the space between the adjacent houses was too narrow. By applying our combined weight at the far end of the bar, we were able to lift and shift the deck sufficiently to insert concrete pads underneath it, thereby levelling it.

Whenever I try to plant a tree or a flagpole or a fencepost at my Glengarry home, slightly below the topsoil there will inevitably lurk a rock, stone or boulder. Some are larger than the first prize pumpkins at the Williamstown Fair.

My pry bar needs no batteries, no lubrication, no annual tune-ups, no periodic paint job and no periodic upgrades. I could bequeath it to my grandchildren (if I ever have any). It’s something I could have inherited from my grandfather if he had brought it over from Ukraine. It is more useful than any other tool or device I have ever owned.    

Could you say the same thing of any electronic or mechanical device you have ever owned?

In some future column, or if we ever get to share the light and warmth of a campfire, I’d like to sing the praises of three other simple things that I have. Do you have any idea what they might be?

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