Friday, January 06, 2006

Forced Inertia

This seemingly throw away line has a whole lot of meaning behind it as far as I can see.
If you've lived on a farm in the more or less pre-industrialised, pre-enclosure world, one thing that happens each year is the re-walking of the paths you take. There are few fences or gates to get in the way and when people take a path, it is for a specific reason - and they go straight there, especially in the grazing areas.
The more elaborate the paths in an area, the greater the activity, the greater the movement.
If the paths have become indistinguishable, by early midsummer, then either there has been no growth of the vegetation, or no one has been moving. The word wanton would suggest the second of these - the green has run riot and overgrown. The green also suggest the village green where you would expect all sorts of comercial activity associated with the village.
When the weather is as bad as it was last summer in Romania, the paths were unworn. The feeling is one of tremendous imprisonment. Enforced inertia. Time stops, with the activity.
A note on the word quaint:

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