Vicki, in all her beloved nosiness, wants us to post pictures of our front doors. I’ll try to do that later, if I get there before dark after Nikki’s soccer practice, but in the meantime, I thought I’d paint a little word picture…
I stand on the doorstep on the all-weather carpeting Marcel installed a few years ago, in front of the door I painted green and then frowned at as it warped in the sun. Next to me is a pot of flowers Marcel was given when he finished his practicum teaching a few weeks ago. Just over the railing on the right is the flower bed that runs the length of the house and is enclosed by wooden logs. Poking out of the dirt, you can see bold shoots of green – hostas, irises, hens & chicks, and various other perrenials that I don’t know the names for but that don’t mind growing in a shady spot.
The lawn in front of the house is a little patchy under the massive elm tree that stands sentry in front of our house. This is the lawn I danced on with my children when it rained last summer. This is the lawn I’ve dug snow tunnels on. This is the lawn – just under that big ol’ tree – where I’ve taken pictures of the girls every year on the first day of school. This is the place where we hunt for lady bugs, watch bunnies hop across the yard, rake piles of leaves and then jump in them, spin circles with sleds in the snow, and have water fights after washing the car on hot summer afternoons.
At the edge of the lawn is a worn-looking pair of wooden lawn chairs with a built-in table between them. We inherited this from the neighbour who packed up and moved to the East Coast. It needed a coat of paint when we inherited it, but instead of painting, we sanded it down and went with the rough look. I like it better that way. It suits the place. It’s falling apart, but so far, Marcel has always managed to repair it and make it last just a little longer. We like to sit on those chairs at the end of a long summer day and watch the world go by. Sometimes we do it with the children, each of us sipping Slurpees or iced tea. And sometimes, Marcel and I sit there alone after the children are in bed and sip our glasses of wine in the stillness of the evening.
Across the street, behind three massive evergreen trees, and tucked in the middle of a fairly large housing co-op, is a rather bland-looking stuccoed wall with a wheelchair ramp wrapping around it and winding up the side. On the other side of this wall, our children have all, at separate times, spent many hours playing, laughing, making new friends, learning to trust adults that are not related to them, making crafts, and watching occasional Disney movies. It’s the day care – a place I at times resent because it’s gotten more of my children’s daytime hours than I have, and at times thank God for because it is close to home, convenient, friendly, and my children are safe and well-cared-for and offered training and inspiration there. (Remember the food-colouring and milk trick? It was learned there.) On that ramp at the side of the building, we've watched many children try out skateboarding tricks - with only minor mishaps so far.
Between that stuccoed wall and my house is a street that’s busier than I’d like it to be. My children can’t dash across it to the play structure in the housing co-op, or ride their bikes up and down the street. We’ve found ways to live with that, though, by using the sidewalk for bike rides and spending more time in the schoolyard and playground on the quiet street behind our house.
On the left, just on the other side of a large and unruly shrub, is a wide yard with a house perched in the middle. These are our neighbours M&J who just had a little baby boy. They’re moving away in a few months, to a newer suburb. We’re going to miss them – they’ve made great neighbours.
I don’t think I’ll give you the same tour of the backyard. It’s a bit of a sore-spot right now, with its rotting deck, falling-down fence, and weed-infested lawn. It needs some major work, but that’s not really in the cards for another year or two. For now, we’ll do most of our living in the front yard.
This is where I live – an ordinary home on an ordinary street in an ordinary suburb in an ordinary city. Nothing grand or elaborate. Nothing dream-worthy or idyllic. Nothing quaint or full of character. It’s just home. It’s where my daughters are growing up, where I’ve laughed a lot, cried a lot, dreamed a lot, ate a lot, painted a lot, written a lot, and loved a lot.
Just like I will never make the pages of Vogue, my home will never make the pages of Better Homes and Gardens. We’re both simple, ordinary, but mostly happy and well loved.