July 01, 2009
What summer feels like in this house
I put the duvet away. We’ve turned the ceiling fan on in the bedroom. The bay windows in the kitchen stay open all the time to catch the breeze in the alley. The bay window overlooks a brick wall, but lets in light. The old doors all stick a little. Dampness rises from the old floor boards. There is thermal lag here – the bricks hold on to their winter cold for a long time and this year into July, but slowly it’s warming up in here. The house plants have escaped to the deck full time. The earth has tilted enough to take the sun’s rays out of our living room. They’ll fill the room come December when the earth tilts back. The basement bathroom is now earning its nickname: the swamp. I washed the tile floor about an hour ago, it might be dry by the end of the week. And I fight an ongoing battle with moldy grout.
Many years ago my friend’s little daughter was in the bathroom, on the toilet, deep in thought. This was her first visit to this house.
It was built in her great grandmother’s era, when flappers were the rage, when the world was living the heady champagne daze before economic collapse, actually in the same years my mother was born. It has triple brick walls, made in the valley just to the west of us. It has old casement windows that complain with the age of many winters, and old oak floors – narrow bands of wood so worn you can see the basement light in some sections. But it feels safe and solid and like home – even though we rent. We love this place.
As she did her business, Kayla considered everything around her. She made her pronouncement: “Mummy? I ike (no l’s yet) Auntie Nicky’s cottage.”
Kayla went outside to play. Her Mum told me what she’d said. A cottage? How cool is that? Little ones like that don’t lie (she soon told me my teeth were yellow). But while she was in my good books, I glowed, because this is like a cottage - it has the spirit of peace that a cottage has.
And in the cool, slow rise from spring, the poppies and peonies have exploded in their beauty and wildness, the roses quickly coming in to take their place, the astounding clematis has crawled up the deck again covering it in purple, and the marshmallows have flowered like a bright laugh. And when I hear the trees rustle with wind and I sit here sipping my morning coffee at the desk by the door looking out over the deck, and I see so many colours of green rising in their lushness, cushioning our presence in a big city, I feel pretty lucky. Grout be damned.
Peony picture from wikipedia.