This Old House

Early in August, Jodi McLaren showed me this quite wonderful piece about how the old house that she and George had purchased was making a graceful transition into becoming a home. It is all about planting gardens and painting walls and creating a space to live in, but even more it is about making peace. When I first read it, I said that I’d post it on the website in a flash, but for a couple of reasons Jodi wanted to hold off for a bit. Then, just a day or two ago, in the season when our gardens have gone to sleep and our front porches have been packed away for the winter, she contacted me with the thumbs up. So, take this both as a reminder of the summer and as a celebration of the deep delight that comes in making a house into a home.

God has set me in a good place.

Here with sweet peas in my garden – their perfume reminding me of summers with my Grandfather – sweet peas and hollyhocks.  That’s where I get it from.  I’ll plant the hollyhocks next year for sure!  Love you Grandpa.

A house with a porch – I was born to live in a house with a porch!  Whiling away the hours on my yellow and orange porch with the olive green deck.  Lounging on the loveseat, snuggling into the well worn quilt gifted to my by the wife of that grandfather more than 25 years past.   Love you, Nanna.  My little black dog curled up beside looking at me with her open-mouthed grin as if to say, “Good, eh Mom?”

Enjoying the hanging pots of flowers, the old window decoration, the new perfectly complimentary curtains that I made showing through the window.  Adam’s stained glass tribute hanging there too!

Eagerly awaiting the new blooms apparent on the hibiscus tree in the corner.  Having met its recent, vibrant ancestors, anticipating greeting the newest family members soon to come…too soon to leave.

Listening to the discordant music of skateboards as two teenagers transport themselves down the sidewalk across the street.  Rushing to its end only to turn back and rush towards where they came from…

Waving as a neighbour – just met – passes by with his lady friend.  Waving again as a smiling plump lady scurries along trying to keep up to her 2 sons eager to get home after their trip to the corner store.

Following with my eyes, the maze of trunks and branches sprouting from the large old trees lining the street.  Green leaves rustling in the breeze the faintest background percussion to the rumble of the cars passing by every few minutes with the changing of the traffic lights.

The flickering of the candles becoming brighter with each passing minute as the set of our neighbourhood takes us from evening to dusk -each house an important character on the stage that is our street.

A fine setting, an old setting – 100 years old this house, how much older this neighbourhood?  Ponder how many people before me have sat on this porch?

He is a house with a good soul and dirty feet.  He wears an old suit jacket with buttons missing and a crumpled fedora hat.  He smells of peppermints tangled up in his pocket with loose threads and lint.  He is so thin and old in some places that his ribs show through.

Affectionately we slowly redress this grand old gentleman – he doesn’t mind and makes us feel welcome – tolerant of our ministrations as a grandfather with a young child.  Eyebrows raised in surprise at the rainbow of colors he now wears.  Ears cocked to the sounds of life we: adults, child, dog and cat provide.  Sighing contentedly, holding us in his bosom.

I am at home here.

The man that I love happy to hear i am writing, creating – should he stay and sit or do I want to be left alone? – STAY! – He is the perfect dessert to this 7 course gourmet meal of an evening!

Too soon he leaves to sleep.  And I must sleep now too.  A contented sigh.  A wisp of breath once, twice, three times and candles are extinguished.

One more glance around the yard.  Streetlights and tiny solar lights turning it into a fairy play land and a magical forest for my cat as she minces her way through the grass.  Stopping nervously with every sound, foreign or familiar she tiptoes her way up the steps towards the door in a quandary.  Wanting to explore, but too nervous to remain in the darkened, secretive yard alone, she sits near my foot, a dew drop of water glistening on her lips, still anxiously turning her head towards the cars as they continue to rush by.

Come kitty, indoors for the night.  Our house will tuck us in safely and oh, how we can dream in a place like this.

God has set me in a good place.

Jodi McLaren

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