The Fixtures of Life

What are those minor objects that are accessories to the passing moments in life?  They don't stand out in memory because they serve a purpose to a higher need - you don't remember the light switch but you remember the light; you don't remember the faucet but you remember the water.  Yet the fleeting seconds it takes to employ these fixtures constitute hours, or even days, over a lifetime.

Coming back to South Africa I am reminded of what life was like here in ways both grand and mundane.  Even the smallest of fixtures is a fixture of life.  The country has transformed since I lived here but it is reassuring to see that some reference points are fixed in time.  Even the faucets are unchanged from those I used in the bath 30 years ago in Zimbabwe.

South Africa is a land of stark contrasts:  the old and the new, wealth and poverty, steaming coasts and frigid mountains, creation and destruction.  In order to see a difference you need a point of comparison.  Electrical outlets are not useful for measuring change across a society, but  they are so small and ubiquitous that they are a constant factor across the country and through time.  Now instead of powering our small, black & white television they feed sleek, shiny hi-def screens broadcasting Champions League football via satellite.  But not when the electrical grid shuts down from power shedding.  In the small you can sometimes see the large.

Timeless taps.