Monday, October 31, 2011

Tinkers Tell Stories

My older brother likes to learn stuff. He can weave baskets and weave scarves; program computers and make websites and do calculus; build hydraulic ram pumps and rock walls; make flowers grow and draw pictures. I like imagine Gary as a tinker, with strange looking tools and pots hanging off the back of his colourful wagon that he put-puts through the streets of Philly yelling "Pots, undented pots!"

The castle he designed in high school* is made from rocks with towers and walls and flowers things and it has this beautiful atmosphere of carefully structured chaos. The water from the hydraulic ram pump runs through pipes from the spring at the bottom of the hill and pours into a plastic garbage can surrounded by comfrey and forget-me-nots and bloodroot. It almost seems old, but it's really not, even with vines covering the walls and dead leaves building up on the ground from years of no care.

In Scotland, the castles rise over acres of hills and forests, or over cities of people and technology, and they radiate history like the sun spits out fire. Stories upon stories are bound by cold walls of stone and mortar and the blood of a million labourers. They tell stories about the old days, about the wars, and builders, and the past.

Maybe one day, they'll tell stories of Old Earth with ancient buildings that only reach 200 stories high, and diseases that spread like wildfire, and dinosaurs and castles and iPhones and satellites and Yuri Gagaran and the moon. Gary's castle will probably be lost to the ravages of time, so they say. Because it's not very big. And he only had two make-believe slaves to build it for him.

But that's fine, because it's the tinkers who tell the stories. And it's the stories that last forever.

*"Castle". Accessed 31 October 2011.

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