In praise of GyPSy
As I said the other day, when it comes to being a travelling companion, my GPS/SatNav, whom I call GyPSy Rose, is a bit unfulfilling. However I have to say that, as a servant, she is nothing short of incredible.
Most of us live in a society where servants are a theoretical or fictional entity. Few of us have grown up under the situation whereby servants are present to permit the masters of the house simply to live life as they choose, unhindered by the need to shop and cook and keep the place tidy enough that one does not have to wade through heaps of uncleared possessions.
The servant is there to permit the masters to put their minds on higher things, such as producing multi-volumed works of important historical research or playing endless games of bridge or drinking oneself into a nightly stupor.
Or Gypsy Rose, whose greatest pleasure in life is freeing her owner of the tyranny of the printed map.
On Saturday, my plane was in on time, my car rental quickly accomplished, the road between LaGuardia and Westport clear. I came into the town with more than an hour to spare before I needed to arrive at the library. So I overrode Gypsy Rose’s well-meaning instructions, and turned her off.
This, too, is the prerogative of a master of servants, to send them away and order silence.
I drove through town, past one group of shops after another. I seemed to be following the sea, although without a map, or converting Gypsy’s screen so I lay higher above the countryside, I could not be certain. When another village grew up around me, I turned away from the main road, and set off into uncharted territory.
And discovered dogwoods.
I knew the tree of course, although dogwoods do not thrive in my part of California. I have seen white and pink dogwoods, and once had an enormous white one growing past the window of my second story bedroom.
Or shall I say, I thought I knew the tree. As I drove, the revelation grew up around me—literally. White? Yes. Also off-white, and creamy white, and WHITE-WHITE! and ivory and pinky-white and green-white and nearly yellow, all of them in the peculiarly intense colors of the dogwood’s thick blossoms.
And pink: pale pink, the color of a cat’s tongue. And a lacey pink that results when each flower is slightly variegated. Also rose and brick-pink and hot pink.
One after another, planted in gardens, lining the winding road, along mill-ponds, reflected in the rills of streams. An entire spectrum of the rainbow that runs from white-white to hot pink, filling the vision and the mind.
Now, if I had been depending on maps to re-trace my steps, I would never have wandered so far from the path, and certainly never have felt free to open my mind to the sight without concern for where I was and how I would get back. The only reason I discovered the colors of dogwood was because I could trust Gypsy to be there when I woke her, depend on her to cast out her invisible lines of inquiry, like a bee turned loose in open countryside, and aim unerringly for the address that she had been closing in on nearly an hour before.
Well done, thou good and faithful servant.