Saturday, September 20, 2008

The House on the Borderlands

On our way out of the city we drove into and out of a storm. The rain pelts the windshield view into almost complete obscurity. Fifteen minutes from Mum's new house and we're right on the edge. Ahead of us bright sunshine, behind us dark gloom. The weather shifts dramatically with every turn of the road. It's quite unlike any drive I've ever been on.

The house itself is small, quaint, potentially darling. I use the word "hovel", but I'm just trying to be funny. From the car to the back door, the atmosphere is a combination of freshness and threat, as the storm seethes not so far off. Inside, everything smells of a house being finished, but not yet done. Some walls are there, some are not. Some are a little of both. The fridge is rather well-stocked, entirely from the previous owner. Two half-full bottles of real maple syrup. In my eyes, the actions of some mad king. He left a lot of himself behind, like a man fleeing the country under duress. Which, I suppose, some mad kings have had to do. There are two wooden practice swords. I take one and head into the yard.

A small pond sits quietly, as small ponds will do, just past the driveway. On closer inspection, a plastic lining expertly betrays it's artificiality, but life abounds nonetheless. A beetle, probably a water-boatman, darts back and forth across the surface. Every time it stops, I brush the water just barely with the tip of the sword and he sets off again, sending out ripples like sonar. Leaving the pond for the moment, I head for the forest at the back of the yard. A chorus of crickets surrounds me, individuals getting silent when I'm too near. It's like an odd game of tag. Crouching down, I can see them tumbling through the grass. Tiny brown ones and big shiny black ones, hopping along like jolly oafs with their three tails sprouting out behind. Off to the right, a little black spider with a fat white abdomen trundles by, all business.

The forest is full of the sound of rain, almost as though still echoing the earlier storm that still lurks far behind me. Even with my newfound trusty sword, plenty of reasons not to go in there. Not least of which, I don't want to get wet. Rain may fall more gradually among the trees, but fall it does. I find what's nearly a clothesline, and a boulder which apparently is the favoured hangout of a local pheasant. Then I go back to the pond. Still no frogs or dragonflies. A british plumber arrives.

Bored wit talk of toilets and ductwork, I go back to the yard. This time grasshoppers herald my aproach, snapping through the lawn. I love to watch them go, their movements are so sharp. I spy a lazy slug, curled up and napping across three blades of grass. And then I find the workshed, a workshed so "workshed" that all I can hear is Bruce Campbell's dubbed-over voice. Saying, "Workshed".

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