• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 06

Moss and Bleach

My task is to sterilize the white path each day. I carry a copper tank on my back. A cable connects the tank to a rod I hold in my right hand. There's a trigger at one end of the rod and a nozzle at the other. Every few seconds, I use my left hand to pump a lever attached to the tank, thereby creating pressure to send a mist of bleach coursing from the rod’s nozzle when I press the trigger. But there’s a difficulty.

Because of the heat, I wear sandals and shorts. So I don’t want to walk into the spray; the bleach would sting my legs and feet. Instead, I walk backwards.

Walking backwards is an underrated skill. I need to count my steps so that I make a precise turn when the path executes a right angle. If I make a mistake, I could step off the path into the moss on the far side.

The moss is oceanic. It has thrived for centuries and takes every opportunity to spread. By treating the path with bleach, I keep the moss at bay.

Last month, I wondered if I could find a purpose for the moss, as fuel, perhaps. With this in mind, I used a penknife to hack at the red all-weather surface that lies on the inside of the path. I managed to rip away enough of the rubbery material to make a mat.

Squatting on the path, I tore at the moss with my fingers and placed each handful on the mat. Next, I dragged what I had gathered onto the all-weather surface and created three piles. I waited several days and lit them.

The piles burned rapidly and produced little heat. I'd discovered that moss isn’t an efficient fuel. All I could show for my effort were three scorch marks where the fires had burned.


Moss and Bleach

I’ve now resolved to avoid whimsical ideas. If I have any thoughts at all, I will focus them on retirement. My plan when I stop work is to take a road trip, well away from moss and bleach.