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This story is written by Nathan Cutler who grew up in Ramea, a small town on the south coast of Newfoundland. "Green" was published in a collection of short stories entitled "Back-Story: First Time Tales by the Stranger Next Door." With a ... click to read moreThis story is written by Nathan Cutler who grew up in Ramea, a small town on the south coast of Newfoundland. "Green" was published in a collection of short stories entitled "Back-Story: First Time Tales by the Stranger Next Door." With a common theme of first-time experiences, many Newfoundlanders and other Atlantic Canadians submitted stories to the anthology. "Green," along with the other stories in the book, can be found at www.lulu.com/content/3176712
By Nathan Cutler
All too fast the three weeks of our vacation had flown by. The much anticipated holiday had been planned since last year. It was 1962 and this was the summer my twin brother and I would visit my cousins, Aunt Mary, and Uncle Lee in Corner Brook, on the west coast of Newfoundland.
We had visited once before when I was 11 with my mom and the six of us kids. This time it was just the two of us. We were 13 and could be counted on to behave while traveling on the coastal steamer for two days and then a six-hour train ride. We traveled under the watchful eye of one of Mom's friends who also lived in our little outport fishing town of Ramea, and who was also traveling to Corner Brook. There was no question of behaviour of the highest standard as it would secure visits sometime again in those long summers to come.
Now on this first morning back home, I pushed away from the breakfast table walking towards the door.
"Where are you going?" called Mom.
I wasn't sure, but maybe up the road to play cowboys and Indians with the best friends or whatever it was they were playing since we had left. No doubt the newest take of the latest Saturday matinee they watched while we were away.
Stepping outside into the sunshine I have no idea why the glistening, silvery sparkles caught my attention. The reflection bounced from the thin pathway that ran directly beneath the clothesline where my mother had just propped up the latest batch of laundry with a long thin pole, to dry in the morning sun. The grass blades all bent in the direction of her footsteps as she had reached up and pinned the individual pieces of clothing to the line. Now the occasional breeze caught them causing the clothing to flutter in the wind, their moisture lost to the sun's warm rays. The excess water dripped onto the grass below, caressing and trickling down the blade's curved backs, the tiny droplets disappearing into the ground as if knowing it was their rightful place.
Aunt Mary never hung her clothing outside: she had a dryer. Her and Uncle Lee's house was much like ours but oh so much bigger and filled with appliances, new stylish furniture, and carpets. They had an electric stove and even some of the meals were different from what I was used to, like the delicious chicken baked in BBQ sauce. We always had gravy at home and although tasty, I preferred Aunt Mary's red sauce over Mom's brown gravy.
For a moment I heard Aunt Mary asking, "What are you staring at?" as I absorbed the huge expanse of golf course that nearly encircled their house and garden.
"Oh nothing," I replied as I studied the small electric vehicles that carried people holding what looked like hockey sticks minus the blades. Boys my age lugged large long leather knapsacks tossing what looked like snowballs. The course was made up of evenly spaced shiny green patches that resembled the softest carpet I had ever seen. Adults, striding with purpose, took much time hitting the small white objects towards holes dug in the centre of each green. I wondered how the grass here was kept so short as I saw no sheep and the fields seemed to roll on forever into the horizon.
The whole expanse was as large as the outport where I had grown up. Uncle Lee oversaw this operation, sort of like back home where Dad ran a ship and its crew. This appeared so much nicer than home, I thought; I tried to dismiss the feelings of envy towards my cousins. Of course I knew I could never express these feelings, to do so was not kind.
I turned to ask Aunt Mary a question, but realized I was now looking back at my own door. Aunt Mary and Uncle Lee's place was so much what I would like as my home. From the first day of our arrival to live in their house and the ensuing three weeks, my time was filled with indescribable delights along with the wonderment of city living. Now as I walked along the narrow path under Mom's clothesline I felt pulled as if by some cosmic magic to check out the sparkle of the dripping water as it struck home onto the blades of bent grass. Beyond the grass ran our fence that, until a few years ago, seemed a mile high as I recalled desperately attempting time and time again to climb up and over - a feat accomplished in my ninth year. Oh to master that six-foot-high wall and run into the next garden.
Next door's garden was where my mother often sent us with a small picnic basket filled with crackers, a few rice-crispy squares, and a container of lime juice, the smell of which I recall to this day. If we were lucky we were even given a can of Vienna sausages. For major picnics there were more goodies. As we all sat on that special picnic blanket breathing in the fresh clean air of outport life, each picnic item was savoured as if it were Christmas morning.
Today, however, I was back home and already the summer holidays seemed as but a dream and everything seemed less bright and crisp. I bent to take a closer look at the gem-like sparkles on the wet grass.
In doing so I was overwhelmed.
For ever so brief a moment, I was transported to a higher level. The world stopped for a moment, the sky grew a deep blue, the robin on the clothes pole sang more beautifully, the gentle breeze on my face was just that - gentle, and through the sparkling diamond-like moisture on the blades of uncut grass I saw the colour green. A green so brilliant, vibrant, and clear that it caught my breath and for the first time I saw the Universe right here in my own backyard on this side of the fence. The Universe shining in the tiny beads of water on each bent leaf of uncut grass and trickling into the roots as if saying "I'm home."