The pleasure of ironing lies in the fact that it's most successfully done in slow motion. I only iron in the summer; during the other three Canadian seasons my wardrobe is dominated by wool sweaters and easy-care stretch turtle-necks. Summer has its own relaxed pace, languid gestures and flowing drapery. I linger over pleats, seams, darts, pocket flaps, giving extra nudges to the front placket, cuff edges and the neat fold of the collar. Lingering is my summer mode, one that extends the nicest chores: husking an ear of corn, rolling out pastry for a fruit pie, sewing on a button stitch-by-stitch.
In the novel "The Twin" author Gerbrand Bakker describes the satisfaction of a lingering task in two perfect sentences:
"The broom is fairly new, its red nylon brush is still stiff and rings on the concrete floor. No matter how much I dawdle, the sweeping is finished too soon."
Yesterday I came across a short video showing artist Gerhard Richter working in his Cologne studio, a segment that reveals the beauty of his unhurried process, as well as the stunning end result. He is the subject of a documentary film "Gerhard Richter Painting" directed by Corinna Belz in which he reveals his method for producing large, abstract oil paintings. Richter's layered works are created by dragging paint across the surface with a squeegee. The amount of pressure exerted on the tool determines the thickness of the paint application, and the artist's gesture is consistently slow and steady as he pushes and pulls. He is quite literally drawing, just as a workhorse draws a plough across a field. I am impressed with the comfortable way the tools are handled, the perfect fit of the custom-made squeegee to the canvas format, and the final "thunk" it makes when it arrives at the end of its course. There is no need for dialogue or voice-over narration, as the task itself is completely absorbing, authentic work. I never get tired of watching this.
Here's another summer favourite, an audio recording of a brilliant poem by Vicki Feaver about slowing down to discover the joy of ironing.