I figure I’ve spent some of the best years of my life dusting the furniture. If hard pressed, I can hazily recall an occasion or two when I dusted behind the furniture or even under it. I use rags, towels, microfiber gloves, dust busters, old underpants, feather-dusters, dustmops, and Endust. However, no sooner do I finish dusting and hang up the dustmop then that white, tannish, fluffy stuff reappears, spreading a messy film over everything, once again. Now I know why. The world is getting dustier! So said the New York Times on Feb. 9, 2011 and they don’t lie. Apparently a scientific study found that the amount of airborne dust doubled in the 20th century. The excess dust may be due to climate change, human land use, and droughts in North Africa. Several thousand particles of dust will lodge in a “cubic centimeter the size of a sugar cube.” Not only that, but we humans actually emit our own personal cloud of dust as we move through space, sort of like Pig Pen, from the Charlie Brown comics.
But there doesn’t seem to be a solution because dusting things makes the problem worse. Once the dust particles are disturbed by dusting they are moved around the room by the air currents. I’m reminded of Amelia Bedelia’s thinking she was “dusting” the furniture by actually sprinkling powder on it.
So what’s a quasi housewife to do? Obviously we should dust less or, better yet, not at all. We should make friends with dust bunnies, lint and white furry particles. We should learn to see the beauty of dust motes in the sunlight. After all, Dust ‘ R’ Us.
Some poets are actually grateful for dust:
Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt, pearl-necklace viruses,
for the infinite,
For algae spores
and fungus spores,
bonded by vital
mutual genetic cooperation,
from equator to pole.
My hand, my arm,
make sweeping circles.
Dust climbs the ladder of light.
For this infernal, endless chore,
for these eternal seeds of rains:
Thank you. For dust.
– Marilyn Nelson