Mary Shrimpton’s Garden

I’m sitting on a collapsing porch, on the abandoned child’s bed I dragged down the street a few months back in that strange snowless time we called winter. You know, the one before that strange snow-filled week we called Spring.

There is a faded red ‘x’ on the floor in front of me, reminding me that if I do step there my foot will very likely find itself ‘below deck’.

I’ve got the doors open and the music wafting out. Been leaving youtube to meander along through full album playlists with gentle curation on my part. A revelation.

The flowers are coming up in Mary’s garden and the bushes starting to show their green. A sight I never thought I’d see. Not when I expected this lot to be a full on construction site last year when I moved in. Temporary. A staging site. A place from which to recollect and move on with relative speed. Not a place to stay through winter. To work and play in. To settle. For whatever now might be.

When I got there the windows were sealed shut. It took us days of banging and scraping and swearing and sweating to get the windows open. To let the air in. To pray the must away.

I ripped a window right off the wall. It was ruining my ‘fung-shooey’. What did I care, it wasn’t like I’d be there when it got cold!

There was nothing when I moved in. Not a bug, nor a wee-mousey, not an oven stove or even hot-water heater. Urban camping. I was loving it wasn’t I. Besides, I wasn’t going to be there long. No furnace? Pff, no problem.

It’s strange. We never really know how long we’ll be in a place do we. We think we can sign a lease and unpack our business and that *cleans hands with satisfaction* is that.

I’ve discovered that tea lamps and toaster ovens make warm rooms and surprisingly diverse amounts of food making. That one can have a pretty amazing bath even if there isn’t enough water by blanketing oneself in hot wet thick towels – practically Roman, no?

I’ve discovered a simplicity that I would normally only equate with summer cottage living. The off-the-grid kind my family knows. Carrying buckets of water and reading by candle light. Sitting outside savoring sun or a beautiful day not matter how brisk or wet.

Mary came to Canada to marry her Canadian soldier. Or so I’m told. She had a son who moved her from this house and removed almost all traces of the life lived here for who knows how long – did she live anywhere else in all this time?

He left some traces though – a cigar box door bell, pulled-rug linoleum in the front hall, a genuine mother-of-pearl light switch cover in the bathroom, and newspaper lining the house and most likely providing what insulation there was to be had.

Mary’s garden is growing again most likely for the very last time. It’ll be a new house next year and a new garden and a new family and a new lease signed with hands cleaned in satisfaction. So it is.

So I sit here now…

wait, what time is it?
The sun’s wandering off somewhere else
Some other garden
And I better get moving or I’m going to be late for work

So it goes

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