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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Nova Scotia VI -- Trenton and New Glasgow

Because the husband and wife were on vacation, they had to visit the husband’s extended family. So the next day, they piled in the car with the father-in-law and the mother-in-law and drove and drove until they reached a town where the father-in-law’s grandfather had lived. They stopped the car for a moment while the father-in-law pointed out the window at a white A-frame house, “That’s where my grandfather used to live,” he said. “And that building right off the left was his painting room. He painted houses, but he painted pictures too.”

They drove down more of the small streets with houses tucked between trees until they reached a mint green house where Aunt Vivian and Uncle Buddy lived. They climbed out of the car, went inside, gave hugs, and sat in the living room for a while. When the father-in-law pulled out his pictures of Africa and began to show them to Vivian and Buddy, the husband rolled his eyes at his mother, who then mouthed “Go for a walk.”

The wife felt a bit like a fifteen year-old trying to escape the adult’s conversation, as she and her husband stepped outside. It was misty in Trenton, so she pulled her sweater close to her neck and waited while her husband grabbed his father’s maroon jacket. The jacket was too big for him and the wife thought it made him look like a little boy. They strolled down the street hand in hand calling each other pet names and talking a little about the day. “How do we get to the park?” the wife asked watching as a couple of people walked a dog.

“We go down here, turn right, and follow a trail through the woods,” the husband said and the wife saw a damp forest waiting for them at the end of the cul-de-sac. When they reached the edge of the asphalt and the beginning of moss and brush, the husband stopped for a moment. “I don’t see the path,” he said.

“Are you sure this is the right street?” the wife asked. He was sure and so they plunged ahead. The wife was glad she had brought her tennis shoes. The husband was stepping over fallen branches, and through dead wet leaves in a pair of flip flops.

“I’m beginning to feel ill-equipped with my flip flops,” he said and the wife smiled.

“I knew there was no way I could be in Canada, and be with you, and not be traipsing out in nature somewhere,” she replied.

Finally, they pushed through all the wet brush and came out the other side of the trees next to a rural highway. They scrambled up the ditch and tall grass, crossed the road, and there in front of them was a huge wooden sign arched above two wooden posts reading “Welcome to Centennial Park.”

There was no one in the park along with the husband and wife. They walked down trails and to a lake completely along. Once at the lake, the husband began picking up stones and throwing them as high in the air as he could. When they’d hit the water they would make a funny gulping sound with hardly any ripples. “That’s called cutting the devil’s throat,” he said and chucked another stone in the air, end over end.

While the husband was doing this the wife stood watching the water, completely unaware of a beaver dam sprawling at her feet. At the top of the home was a hole, surrounded by stick after stick woven together like an igloo of wood.

Soon the husband pointed to the beaver home, and when he did, she stood mesmerized by the intricacy of the structure. She knelt down close to the hole and imagined she was small enough to crawl into the opening and sit on the bank watching the ebb and flow of water beneath the sticks. It reminded her of a children’s book or a fairy tale. The beaver home seemed like a cozy place to hide in the rain. “I don’t think a beaver lives there anymore,” the husband said, sending a stone across the surface of the water. It skipped more times than the wife could count.

“Why not?” asked the wife.

“Because if he was still around he wouldn’t let a hole grow in the middle of his roof.”

“But isn’t that how he gets in?”

The husband shook his head. He thought they came and went under the water. The wife believed him when it came to things like this because, one: beavers were his favorite animals, and two: when she watched him by the water, throwing stone after stone, wearing a jacket too big for him, he looked like little boy, a child borne out of nature.

With each moment the years seem to strip away until she felt she was seeing him as the ten-year-old he used to be, skipping stones, scrambling through woods, and playing hockey on frozen ponds. A spark leapt in her heart, because for a moment she saw innocence as clean as the moist air, as intricate as a beaver dam.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Marcia said...

Wow! My favorite of the six!

9:48 PM  
Blogger Marcia said...

OK, now that I'm rested and a little more coherent, here's what I was thinking as I read your last post....

There's just something special about getting the opportunity to see the little boy your husband was, before you knew him. :)

7:40 AM  

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