The song was stuck in my head, and I was going to be hearing it all day. But that wasn’t what was most annoying.
It was stuck there because I was doing a good deed and helping a friend.
I may have helped distract their kids for the afternoon.
But spending more than half that time stuck on a broken ride while the theme music track plays at what feels like increasingly annoying volume and while the kids finally achieve their dream of memorizing the lyrics and choreography is just the icing on the cake.
My only consolation is that at the end of the day, I get to return the little parrots to their home, where they will inflict their new learning on their parents.
The wood table sat in a room panelled in knotty pine that, once upon a time, had been whitewashed. Now it was merely an ashen grey, with occasional blotches where a knot must sit. Not that it mattered much, as the room was fairly dim, aside from an oil lamp burning on a shelf on the wall, and a larger oil lantern on the table. From the smell, the lights were burning whale oil. It left a distinctive funk in the air that was difficult to ignore.
The ceiling and floor were mostly lost in the shadows, as were several windows in the wall. It might have been twilight outside, but the windows were clogged by cobwebs and dust on the inside, and overgrown by long-dead vines punctuated by the occasional abandoned bird’s nest on the outside, making them useless as sources of light, as well as uninteresting in the background.
The table itself was kept surprisingly clean and neat. In addition to two lanterns shedding warm yellow light, it held two wicker (or willow branch) baskets. These were well-worn and frayed. Missing and broken twigs added an aura of age and authenticity to their presence. The baskets held various nuts and roots, dried after several seasons in the root cellar, along with a (hopefully) recently killed drake, still wearing most of its feathers. A mallard drake, to be precise, its green chest contrasting the orange carrots and white parsnips nicely, while a spray of lavender in the background had faded enough to be barely recognized and lost all scent, not that it could compete with the whale funk that permeated the room.
All the troubles of the world come from striving towards too much purity. The world would be a much better place if everyone would pay less attention to it.
Alloys are often superior to the pure metals. Steel is stronger than iron. Bronze is stronger than copper. Even those metals that are nominally pure, in real life are usually alloys as well.
Composite materials too are usually stronger than any of their materials individually. A spun thread is far stronger than the raw cotton it is made from. A woven cable is stronger yet. Papier mache, fiberglass, and concrete are all considerably stronger than their ingredients alone.
Embrace the blends. Embrace combinations.
Find strength in the combinations of things.
And always beware those that would tell you otherwise.