Wednesday, August 1, 2007

idle scraps for sale

Chloe sent me peppermint in the mail. Not peppermint tea, all dried and ready, but the leaves and a flower from a peppermint plant. I left them too long in the plastic bag and they grew a little moldy, but now they are drying properly. I don't know if I'll make tea from them -- afraid of residual mold -- but the thought is certainly more than enough. Thanks to sweet Chloe.


My mother's brother and his family were just here, from Ontario. They have two young boys, 10 and 12, and before they arrived we worried how to entertain them in case of a rainy day. We needn't have: on their own steam they motored around the garden picking up slugs and snails, putting them in a bucket and letting the snails make slime trails all over their hands. "It feels like really small teeth, like a cat's tongue licking," said the 12-year-old.

Later, we went out on Monty's boat in the pouring rain. The edges of the Bras d'Or lake were blurred by grey clouds and grey water-top, and the grey was all different shades from white to dark, and the rain pocked the surface of the dark blue waves with tiny needle-sized specks. The rain also got us all soaked, but I wouldn't have worn rain gear even if I had it -- I secretly relished the little-kid feeling of being drenched top to bottom, drops making their way from scalp to chin, a drowned-rat feeling that easily erases when you go home, get in warm clothes and bundle yourself on the couch.


Earlier today the phone rang. "Hello?" I said.

"Hello," said the caller, which was a long-distance, unrecognizable number, "Is this the party to which I am speaking?"

I thought it was a confused telemarketer. Plus, my brain was tired, too tired to pick up the joke swiftly.

"Well, that depends." I said, wary.

"It depends on what side of the river you're on," the caller replied, confusing me further, especially as his voice was becoming more familiar. There are no rivers forming territorial boundaries here, besides for maybe the North River that marks the difference between the Baddeck and the Ingonish RCMP jurisdictions. I didn't think that's what this caller meant.

"I'm sorry," I said, "But you're calling Nova Scotia."

"I know!" He said, laughing. "This is Herb!" Herb Rosenberg is an artist friend of ours who lives in Jersey City, NJ, and who is eccentric enough to be interesting, but friendly enough to make his eccentricities merely odd, not off-putting. "Ohh!" I said, "I thought you were a telemarketer!"

"Well then, what may I sell you today?" He asked.

Today I'm hawking idle scraps of summer life. Any takers? I'll barter with you.

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