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          Well, there’s not much to report from the Bustling Burg of Babbling Brooks, except that our brooks are doing some serious babbling. Our spring season went straight from non-stop snow to non-stop rain. I haven’t seen my shadow in weeks. In consequence, all the little seasonal streams and springs are erupting en force. I spend hours standing out there with a shovel, directing the water so that it fans out over the land and soaks in, reminding me of my days as a flood-irrigator out on the Fairfield Bench. Then I had to go out every four hours to move the dams so that the water would reach each part of the field, and that went on for 48 or 72 hours straight, so in comparison, this is a cake-walk, but I still take it seriously.

          My neighbors do, too, as the culvert I put in under the turn-off to my driveway is definitely big enough to handle the water volume, but the water is rushing so fast, it scours the banks of its little stream bed and carries debris which gets stuck in the middle of the culvert, forcing the water over the top, and down the shared road. One night it got plugged up, and by morning there was channels a foot deep cut into the road. Looks like when the monsoon is over I’ll have to buy some gravel. Can’t have unhappy neighbors, can we?

          As usual, the Goddess of Weather apparently has a direct view of my datebook, since this is the time of year I particularly need the weather to be nice, and she apparently doesn’t like me. Every time I have to drive somewhere for an appointment, it not only snows, it blizzards. If I have a week in which to plant my customer’s gardens in the big city, it rains the whole week. Of course, once the plants are in the ground, rain is particularly welcome, but knowing the G of W, as soon as it stops raining enough for me to get my planting done it will be hot and dry, causing a general horticultural failure to thrive. But I’ve already complained about this, haven’t I? As I mentioned, I’m in a period of forced quiescence, and there’s not much else going on.

          What I have found time for is reading, having exhausted my supply of foreign films. All that culture was surely edifying, but it’s a relief to get back into English. Or mostly, anyway.  I can’t stand authors who put in line after line in foreign languages. Back in the day of the Brontes, when French really was the Lingua Franca and most people educated enough to read a novel also spoke some French, I can see having characters speaking French to each other, and since I live today when English is the Lingua Franca (why do we say that in Latin? Shouldn’t it be langue Francaise?), I understand that I’ll just have to struggle along, guessing at the meaning by being able to recognize every fifth word. But today, if you’re going to throw in ferrrin languages, translate. The last book I read with a lot of ferrin langerages in it, I found out at the end that there was a glossary there. Not the best time to find it. Put it in the front.

          If the unknown language used in a book happens to be a fairly common one, and you absolutely must know what is being said, you can always resort to Babelfish, an instant translation website. The problem with it is you can become distracted very, very easily on that site. Say you put in this text to be translated: “I was jealous, I was furious that night. The sight of you dancing with that man when I had been worried about you made me frantic.” Translate that to French and it comes out Frenchified garbeldy-gook, and then translate the garbeldy-gook back to English and it becomes: “I was jealous I were furious with you this night. The sight of you dancing with this man when I had been worried about you returned to me unrestrained.” Do it again, and you get “nonrestricted” instead of unrestrained.  Try: “June was a crowded month, a month of rituals. It was a time of graceful ceremonies, set about with flowers.” And you get : “June was one month tightened, one month of the ritual one. It was one moment of the gracious ceremonies, together approximately with flowers.”

          There is an unrestricted amount of time to be wasted on Babelfish. Together approximately with flowers. And that’s what I like about it. What goes on in my head when I read  pretty much any text – even in plain English – is “together approximately with flowers.”  We all have so many associations and relationships with the words we read that even though we approximate normal-sounding interpretations to what we read, in our fore-brains the language is all about being “returned nonrestricted.” If you really think about it, that is. But don’t. Turn on the telly, why don’t you?



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