We all have something, at least one thing
so they say
habitual actions of the despicable kind
I have mine
I fight them, though I love them
you hate them
What’s a girl to do?
According to Grand-pops, the Weald family homestead on Milkweed Lane, was not built. It grew.
Yeah, Yeah Pops. What ever you say think his five grandchildren as they snicker and roll their eyes. He takes no notice of the mocking and continues. “I have lived here my whole life. Born right here in this very house eighty-nine years ago.” Grand-Pops motions to the front of the house sipping noisily at his coffee. When he sets it on the table he doesn’t notice the cat making a move for it. The children have no choice but to settle in. Once Grand-Pops starts reminiscing there is no getting away. Even the dogs get comfortable. Kids and dogs, together on the porch, politely waiting to be free, the cat happily lapping up cold coffee.
Having heard the tale so many times the Weald Kids mouth the words as the old man recites them. “When my family first came to this land,” Pops begins, “The house was nothing more than a hill. My father, your great-grandfather, climbed atop that hill to survey the land. He looked over fields and forest, all one hundred and ninety acres. He saw endless blue sky and he breathed fresh air. He saw the pond covered with lilies and surrounded by cattail. This, he decided, is a good place to live. My mother, your great-grandmother, standing alongside the hill agreed. She said “I think here is the perfect place for my rocker chair.” It was settled, great-grandfather walked over to great-grandmother, put his young arms around her swollen belly and decreed. “We will make a good life here.” grandmother smiled, the baby kicked and the scene was so serene it was practically picturesque. Of course, no matter how corny and surreal it seems to those with no emotional connection to the family, what happens when nature witnesses such deep love, so humble and sincere… well, it is a powerful thing.
When the day came for the Wealds to take possession of their newly purchased property they arrive with dreams to nourish them, a tent to shelter them and not much more. They hire a farmer to transport them in his one horse wagon but he just does a drive by and drops the couple at the end of the lane-way. As they began the trek up the long lane, on this the happiest day of their lives one which was about to get happier, it began to rain. Down pouring, wind whipping and thunder clapping a ruddy stirred-up torrential storm. Electric bolts cracked the sky and it was scary. All they had to shield them was an old canvas two-man tent. Great grandfather had planned to erect a temporary shelter right away. Something to keep his family safe until the house was built. At this moment he felt deflated and defeated. Great Grandmother, always the optimist and crazy in love, turned to her beloved and said loudly. “Home sweet home” but Great Grandfather couldn’t hear her above the storm.
Approaching the top of the lane, dismally wet and silently praying for shelter, a wonderous thing happens. The storm vanishes, the sky clears and the sun shines. To the west a rainbow appears, a colourful prism arching across the landscape. Framing the hill in front of the pond. The newlyweds are awestruck, they admire the view as the sunshine warms them.
When the reverie breaks, so does Great-Grandmothers smile. She groans and clutches at her abdomen, the action bringing her husband to attention. It is time. Panicked, Great-Grandfather begins shouting out orders. “Get the tent, we need towels, the mid-wife comes next week!”
Great-Grandmother not listening, moves calmly toward the hill. She sees something that was not there before. Behind a thick hedge of cedar there appears to be a railing. A railing that looks as if to fence in a porch. The porch has a floor made of flag stone. Flag stone in varying shades of black, grey and blue, creating a wide path, level and accommodating. The path travels the base of the hill, where it meets the hill the stone changes direction moving upward forming a wall. Now the facade of a house, the stone wall is punctuated with a bright green door. Large windows flank either side of the door producing a pleasing symmetry. At the north end sits two rocking chairs. Side by side, just as Great-grandmother had imagined.
There is no time to wonder or question. Opening the door the young couple enter into a wide welcome. A kitchen with similar stone floor as the porch is equipped with warm pine cupboards. An open living space with floors made of the same warmth to the left. Behind the kitchen is a bedroom. The bedroom houses a bed of green grass, soft and fragrant, and without a doubt meant for mother and me. Stepping across the threshold both, soon-to-be, parents relax. All worry and anxiety dissipate. Instinctively mother climbs into the waiting bed …and here I am.
Over the years the Weald family have added things like plumbing and electric. They’ve collected comfortable furnishings, proper beds and home-made rag rugs. The cedar shingled roof and window dormers materialized on their own, but the wood stove and chimney, Father put in. With every addition to the family the hill house would provide more space. On those nights when storms raged and the family slept the house made needed changes and rearrangements. Sometimes the house knew, even before mother, that the family would soon be growing.
Today Mr. and Mrs. Weald junior and their five children live in the hill house at Milkweed lane. Mr and Mrs. Weald senior, Pops and Gran, reside in a proper little cottage built for them on the east side of the pond. The homes face one another, keeping the family connected but still allowing for privacy. Grand-Pops still helps out around the farm, as much as he can, but mostly he likes to tell whom ever will listen about how things used to be. His grandkids might think his story outlandish. They may think his marbles have been lost. But whether they believe him or not he was there. And who would know the truth better than the guy the house grew for?
via Daily Prompt: Eyes
How boring brown eyes are
so common, so plain so usual
mine came with matching hair and skin and nipples
blues eyes are like tractor beams they always pull me in
they often come with yellow hair and colours I can never wear
eyes green and grey are mysterious
uncontained like lakes and storms
their packaging of freckled skin a thing I can’t resist.
Then I noticed his eyes, so strong and deep – a vow
golden light and solid ground – framed with lashes long
his beauty proved me wrong
via Daily Prompt: Moon
beams and pies and
a singing wolf
an orbiting bit of broken earth
The wrought iron fence leans to the south in most areas. In other spots it still stands straight and black as intended. A thick chain secures the gate with a pad lock, the key to which has long been misplaced. Not that it matters, the hinges having been seized with rust for at least two decades. Next to the gate stands a maple tree, left to grow recklessly, veiling the black and white sign affixed to the fence. The sign, battered by a hundred years of braving the elements, reads Juniper Valley United cemetery.
From the crossroads at sixth line and nineteen side road the resting place appears forgotten. Surrounded by long grass and weeds the youngest grave marker erected in 1966 and bearing the name Gilbert. The oldest is from 1880, it also reads Gilbert . Many of the other head stones also carry same names. Family names which still exist in and around the county. Not that any visit the ancestors buried here.
In the summer the inhabitants start to wake while the sun is up. Late afternoon, just before supper time. No different then in winter but in winter when it gets darker earlier the ghosts are easier to see. Martha Gilbert is usually the first to rise. She perches on her granite marker like queen of the garden. Martha is the youngest and still remembers things about the living. Her favourite living activity being gossip. Once everyone is up she will lean against the fence and peer out as far as she can. All the while blathering on about other people’s business. Her great-great-great-grandfather Herman rolls is eyes. He comments that things were a lot more peaceful around here before the sixties.
Residents of this night garden are not all alike. Some specters are only partial haunts. A glimpse, an idea or the word lost on the tip of your tongue. Others are fully formed like Martha and her grandfather. Then there are the graves no one ever comes up from. While these are all curious differences the souls left behind in Juniper Valley United cemetery never question it. Each spirit seems lost to their own world. Remembering things they can’t forget, forgetting things they want to remember, paying no mind to one another. Day in day out time has no markers in the life after life. An August day like today should be no different. Maybe it would be if the farmer from down the road, his name is Jackson Martha informs loudly, would stop swinging his chainsaw at the maple tree. It is late in the day for this kind of work and old Jackson is disturbing the at peace.
By one a.m. the moon is bright and Martha is the last to turn in. She relaxes on her headstone and fades away.
As the August sun travels west Martha is on her throne again. Today She is confused, something is different. When the others rouse she travels to her usual spot against the fence but today she cannot find it. Disoriented she turns back. It appears as if every spook in the place is sitting on her stone. “Get the hell of my stone you bloody ghouls!” Angry at being ignored she moves towards the cluster of ghosts. All the grave stones have been moved to the back of the cemetery, lined up in such a manner that they are now side by side front to back without space in between. As the apparitions awoke they were forced to look for their headstones like a game of musical chairs. Now they sit shoulder to shoulder on marble and granite like theatre seating.
Martha is not concerned with the rearrangement of the cemetery. Her plan is to lean against the fence all day. If she could just figure out where it is. Martha begins to search. She walks around and around, up and down, back and forth, muttering then shouting. Finally Herman notices her. “Shut up and get to your fence you silly girl.” Exasperated Martha looks at her old ancestor and asks “can you see the fence?” Herman looks. Then for the first time in a half a century he moves from his marker. When he reaches Martha he is quiet for a spell, then says “I think the fence is gone.”
The two Gilberts stand where the fence had stood. The black and white sign now fastened to the shorn maple tree. Martha asks “do you think we can cross?” Herman contemplates this query. He hums and haws. He picks up a twig and throws it across the fence line. Herman can not remember a time when he thought with questions and answers. Everything in this afterlife had always just been. At last he looks at his great-great-great Granddaughter and says ” Well, I don’t rightly know.”
Martha has been imagining all the homes and families she could visit. All the drama waiting to be witnessed, gossip that waits to be chewed on and passed around. It is such a tempting idea. The fence is gone, there is nothing keeping her in . So Martha looks ahead and takes a step beyond.
The laneway is long. From the road it appears to be another road. Only older, over- grown and not regularly maintained. If not for the crippled old mailbox roadside, or the odd lean-to style bus shelter, no one would know the path lead to someone’s home. The mailbox reads Weald, the family name. Under the name is a home-made sign, green painted barn board, hung with frayed twine claiming “Milkweed Lane.” The address, rural route two, concession one, line one lot 26 Juniper Valley township. Everyone who lives in or around Juniper Valley will have the same postal code.
It is almost four o-clock when the school bus makes its last stop. The Weald children depart and it is a relief to be home. Especially this weekend, it is the Thanksgiving long weekend and everyone is excited for the fall fair. Of the five Weald children Lauren is the youngest and in grade three. She breaks into a run as soon as her feet hit the gravel. She won’t keep the pace all the way to the house. Next are the twins. Joey and Josh, not identical. They are fifth graders and have saved apples and carrots from their lunches to treat the neighbors horse. William is the eldest and in grade ten. The family calls him Billy but lately he’s been asking everyone to ” please refer to him as Bill.” Lastly is Bethany, grade eight – almost a teenager and Beth for short.
Beth walks slowly up the lane-way, slower than her siblings. They tease her, calling her a dawdler. Laughing she answers back that she is strolling. The hike to the house is a little less than a kilometer but this time of year it is very agreeable. The gravel is dry, the sky is clear, the air fresh.
The weeds that grow in abundance along each side of the lane-way are brown and have gone to seed. In particular the milkweed. When school began last month the seed pods had still been small and green. Now, in October, the pods are bursting. Tawny and tan, crunchy and split wide open with fluffy white down spilling from the gap. Beth picks one pulling it open for Lauren to inspect. The girls stroke the silky soft seeds lovingly as if it were a pet. Then silently and in sync, the siblings separate. Each choosing a side. Beth and the twins on the west side of the driveway, Bill and Lauren drift over to the east. Without words and without prompting the two sisters and three brothers drop their school things. With a single nod from Billy a coordinated milkweed disruption is unleashed. Shaking and shifting, agitating the release of the fleece. There is a feeling of delighted satisfaction as the seeds litter the sky like snow falling in reverse.
For the Weald kids it is a miraculous event happening only in autumn. Patiently waited for, imagined with anticipation. A single spellbinding moment full of pleasure and fascination . Beth thinks this must be what is meant when you hear “the best things in life are free.” Of course the seeds will pollute the property with more weeds. Mother will sigh and plead with them to stop. “Please, leave the milkweed alone. We have more than enough weeds without the help of you rascals.”
The gold light is the old light
it is the light that appears between the pines
in glimpses of radiant beams and
of sunny columns
strobes that flicker at the peripheral
giants protect the lake
a fragrant fence of needles
filtering reflected light
the pines whisper with the lake
sentinels shielding the mystery
the road slips through the trees
its passage dips and curves between
a narrow secret of cracked pave
the chemistry of transporting
the car finding this path is content
it is free to defy laws and transcend limits
its metallic carriage, incandescent beneath warm rays
basking in the journey
the driver recognizes the vehicles pleasure
its relationship with the road, bewitching pines
the declining light of halcyon
it is the moment that is the moment before
the destination is anticipation
waiting, it awaits for the driver to emerge
the secluded road opens to a widened welcome
street lights take up where the old light left off
tonight has been expecting you
Novelist, Freelance Editor
Martha Ann Kennedy's Blog, Copyright 2013-2017, all rights reserved to the author/artist
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