….or why it is taking so darned long to complete these renovations.
The clouds glide across the sky towards me, creating bands of blue on the salt water, the colours of different shades of iceberg, – a Northern Neapolitan confection of a reflection with a bright orange buoy standing in for the cherry on top. Before I am out of my seat to get the camera the sky has changed and it is just any old ordinary bay again. Perhaps I can preserve it in writing. I go off in search of paper. I find an eraserless number 2 pencil the colour of a south coast dory but no blank paper. Maybe I can write on the back of that pile of paper over there….nope, it’s my son’s resume. The torn package from a new doorstop? Nope, too glossy. The notebook is too small, the phone book too full of words already, a tissue too fragile. I am feeling like a literary Goldilocks when I spy the paper bag. It will do even though its rough surface will deprive me of the pleasure of feeling graphite glide on the fresh white paper of a three subject coil scribbler. No pens to be found, just fat Sharpies for labeling boxes so I take the Number 2 pencil and settle into the papasan chair with a bamboo cutting board for a desk. I jot.
The bands on the water are back by now. They are softened by the haze of salt residue on the front windows, a gift from post-tropical storm Arthur which blew the tops off of the surf in the bay and sent them up my yard like the fine spray of a garden hose. Arthur was only a playful little pup of a storm by the time it reached Prospect Bay. By the time I open a window, remove the camera from its case, untangle the strap and push the on button, the sky has changed again. This is why I have always loved living here by the water; even on the calmest days the scene is perpetually changing. Better than Netflix, I think, (except for “Nashville”) better than CBC radio but not better than being in the armchair next to my husband’s armchair, he with a computer and one or two cats in his lap. Enough of this daydreaming. I have work to do – the craft cupboard needs emptying and sorting. I get up to fetch a cardboard box but notice that the bulb in the range hood has burned out. On my way to get the replacement bulb I nudge with my little toe, a Fisher Price “Happy Apple” and it tinkles softly and my heart swells and contracts and my eyes well up and I am transported back in time to when the house was full of babies and toys and story books. Sigh and smile and sigh again. Now the house is just a shell and like a Christmas gift for stranger, I carefully wrap it in fresh paint and add a few bright blue stripes to add some pizazz. In the past week it has gone from an episode of “Hoarders” to a spread in House Beautiful (well, not quite but you get the drift). Our personalities have vacated the premises but despite its new neutrality, I still am attached. Every little ding in the birch flooring holds a memory. Like the mess of round dents in the floor by the stairs where I rocked and rocked with the rockers on top of the rug knots and with each oscillation drove a knot into the floor. I knew I was doing it but I couldn’t stop because I was immobilized from the exhaustion of trying to settle the colicky baby in my lap, the crying shredding my last nerve and I rocked all the harder because I really wanted to hurt something but my baby was too beautiful and too fragile and too precious. The floor took the assault without complaint. Every little mark on the wall has meaning. Like the grease spot right at the top of the frame of the door to the kitchen where my son would climb, spread-eagle gripping the frame with his bare feet and grubby hands until his head was grazing the top. The millions of scratches in the floor finish evoke the memory of the sound of a little plastic fire-truck careening about the room, foot propelled urgently by the two tiny feet of a boy in fluffy blue pajamas, one hand keeping the red plastic fire-hat from falling over his eyes, the other busy with the honky horn. It was killing the hardwood floor but I was too tired to care. The divot in the wall of the yellow room is where the nail was. The nail held the ABC poster which I would sing as a lullaby to my little girl tucked into a white enamelled bed, the fuchsia pink-edged crazy quilt made by Nanny tucked tightly under her chin; “Annie has an apple, Bill a bat and ball, Carolyn has a cake and David has a duck….” and sometimes I would have to go through it twice before her little lids refused to open despite her best efforts at pulling them up with her eyebrows and they would quiver a time or two and then she would settle into a perfect restful sleep and I would wish that I could crawl in beside her and sleep too.
So many reminders but I have no regrets. This is indeed a beautiful bay but it is time for someone else to enjoy it and time for me to settle into my next life phase. I have a husband I love, a studio on the river, a boat in a box waiting to be built and another waiting to be launched and a head full of images calling to be put on canvas or carved into wood. I will finish packing and move on. But look how calm it is. The kayak really needs to be wetted down before it forgets how to float. The craft cupboard can wait another day.