What more can possibly be written about Ash Wednesday that hasn’t been written before?
Not the dust we turn into in our $6000 coffins under the ground…but the everyday stuff — the dust that we are surrounded by every day of our lives.
There’s dust bowls, dust storms, dust-ups, dust in the wind, thou dust protest too much (oh…wait….), dust bins, Dusty Springfield, dust mops, biting the dust, Dustin Hoffman, feather dusters and left in the dust.
So what IS dust?
Dust is a melting pot of dusty diversity. Dust is composed of particles of soil, pollen, cat fur, dog hair, human hair & sloughed-off skin particles, textiles, paper, pollution, cat litter, laundry lint, food crumbs and probably just about any other icky thing you can think of.
Then you have your specialty dusts…coal dust, road dust (a toxic combo of particles of vehicle exhaust, tires, brake pads, oil, asphalt, cement and who knows what else), construction dust, atmospheric dust and cosmic dust (seriously…there is dust in outer space).
Most of us are concerned with domestic dust. This is the dust we find in our homes…the aforementioned melting pot that clogs up our noses, makes our computer keyboards stick, blocks the dryer duct and builds-up on our shelves full of chotchkes and books.
We may think that the only creatures that we are sharing our living spaces with are our cats, dogs, spouses and parakeets, but…surprise!…we also live with little critters called dust mites. Millions of ’em. Mites’ bodies measure about .013 by .016 inches, so even if you live in a small apartment, you still have plenty of room to accommodate them.
Dust mites eat dust (well, actually organic matter), digest dust and then complete the cycle by excreting dust poop. Oh, and a female dust mite can lay up to 100 eggs during her short (up to 70 days) life cycle.
Dust mites love bedding, shag carpets, pillows, couches and pluffy recliner chairs. So the living-on-top-of-each-other housing tracts with their fancy indoor accouterment that humans have created suit the mites just fine.
The little buggers can also cause allergies and asthma.
Dust and dust mites also contribute to the billion-dollar cleaning solvent industry. Cleaning solvents, of course, can kill dust mites and magically remove dust from your furniture and shelves filled with chotchkes and books. But they also leave behind a rather unhealthy residue of their own.
And there is the mother-of-all dust collectors, the vacuum cleaner…the bane of many a cat or dog.
Oh…and then there is the verb infinitive, “to dust.”
As I have gotten older, the accompanying wisdom of this process has led me to realize that it is pointless “to dust.” There will always be dust, just as there will always be dirty laundry, dishes and cat boxes. The thing is, however, that dust is easier to ignore (especially when I’m not wearing my eyeglasses) than running out of socks or clean plates. When it comes to cleaning, a girl has to pick her battles. (Or hire a housekeeper.)
So there you have it…dust in all its eternal glory. We humans, each one of us, eventually go the way of all things (i.e. die…), but there will ALWAYS be dust.
©March 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver
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