I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Sisyphus, that lucky bastard.
While he was condemned by the gods for his transgressions to endlessly roll the same big rock up a hill from the bottom each and every day, at least it was a big rock. And, getting it to the top must have seemed to him–and the Greeks who were told the story–to be significant enough to justify the eternal, albeit fruitless, effort.
As for me, I have been condemned to the opposite, although ultimately as futile, effort as that avaricious old king. The rocks in my path are not big; in fact, they’re not much of rock at all. Instead, they are countless thousands of itty-bitty crushed stones that a snow plow pushed onto the lawn the one time this winter when there was enough snow to plow.
Why that happened is another story involving a friend of my daughter’s who, I am certain, will never be invited to Plato’s Lyceum. But what was done was done, leaving us with a partially gouged driveway, scattered stones and a decision on repairs.
And I was all for making the necessary repairs, which includes a few truckloads of top soil for the driveway, and some new crushed stone for an area that’s given us 25 years of cover. But my wife had an additional idea.
You are correct: we are raking and picking up every possible little crushed stone, sifting each bucket load multiple times to let the wind separate the stones from the dried grass, and then transporting said cleansed rocks back to the garage area, where they are again strewn about, mere eyedropper doses in an ocean of crushed stone.
Now this process of raking, sifting and redepositing happens every year, although to a far lesser degree than the current effort. And, truth be told, it is my wife (who must get immense pleasure out of this) who takes charge and obsessively works at it day-after-day to exhaustion.
But this year’s effort seems particularly Sisyphean to me. I can understand the raking part, since we could move the little stones onto the driveway, where they’d be buried under a ton of soil. But to get on our hands and knees picking up each and every little rock we can find so that it can be returned to the front of our garage? That is taking obsession to a new level.
I’ve gotten a break in this drudgery, as we’re taking a little trip to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia estate in springtime, something we’d talked of doing for ages. While we’re there, I should be able to forget about the crazed task that awaits us after we’re back home. Perhaps my train of thought will shift while at Monticello, to slavery.