Sweetness and Light

It is sometimes suggested to Uncle Blogsy that he whines a lot. I don’t know why people come whining to me about it. Life can be difficult, artichoke angelfood, and the race is not always to he who hauls the heaviest boxes. If one tries to make a way through it with a jug of vintage whine, that’s better than kicking small children or biting bunnies.

But, in the name of giving equal time to the view that life is a glorious circle of song, or would be, if people sang more and grumbled less, I would like to say a few words about my friend, the box.

Yes, I know, I have been unkind in the past, but that was to boxes that are too big or have holes in the sides or bottom, or which have been used to carry potted plants to the garden and not swept out afterward. The box is my friend, friend, and don’t you forget it.

A box, a Real Box, has four clean sturdy walls, a sturdy bottom, and, frequently, a lid. Some boxes even have handles, original with the box or home-made by a subsequent owner. I want to talk about those walls. A lid is optional. The bottom is essential, as any reasonable person will admit. A box without a bottom, banana bagel, is a sham and a cheat unworthy of the name box, and the world knows this.

But it’s those four walls that make or break the box, so to speak. Books, being usually rectangular, can be stacked against these walls, bracing them and making a neat pile. The walls, if their cardboard is young and optimistic, form not only a guide but a shield for the books within, saving them from rude bumps and knocks along the way and, if it is necessary for a beleaguered book fair manager to stack them to the side, providing a strong support for other boxes on top. The books are thus kept in excellent condition for the next owner, a person for whom I hold great respect and dread. (Will they like our selection of hopeful books? Will they be as entranced by the contents as previous owners? Will they pony up the cash instead of slipping the book into their boot and limping out the door with it? These are the things that trouble my calm contemplation of the music of existence, sturgeon stuffing.)

I hope you understand, then, that when I cry out against the duplicitousness of cardboard or bemoan the banana box, I mean no insult to the box as a concept. Individual boxes may disappoint, but in general, I feel the box is a boon to humanity and one of the basic tools given to us by this musical life we are fortunate to have been given.

THERE! I hope that’s positive enough. A cheerful salute to boxes without one word as to its having been inspired by the donor who dropped off 85 T-sacks of books Saturday morning (those are those little plastic ones that look like T-shirts when empty, hence their name. This is NOT a good packing device if you have in excess of, oh, fifty books.)

And not a word, NOT A WORD, I TELL YOU, about the person who came by just as I had finished tidying up those, whose car disgorged fifteen garbage bags of books. Throws off all my plans for the rest of the day when I get that many garbage bags, codfish goulash. It’s enough to make me say nice things about boxes.

(And while we’re on the subject of the music of existence and that faint sound of singing in the background, let me remind you that this is Smurf Singalong Month. We have received the most cute and cuddly book kits imaginable, along with an example of how these kits can be turned into a combination book and stuffed animal. The book alone is a wonderful thing, with the text on one piece of cloth at the beginning, and a little stuffed puppy that you move through the pages by means of Velcro, re-enacting the story until he reaches a little zippered compartment at the end where he can sleep safe and sound. There are seven kits which can be made into similar books. These are fun, grape jelly jambalaya, make no mistake. I just kind of wish the text and the sewing instructions weren’t all in Portuguese.) 

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