Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shuffles, We Hardly Knew Ye

OK, I lied, I have another blog post in me. Barely.

It looks like we have a buyer for our home, although contracts are not yet signed. And of course I have mixed feelings about the whole prospect of moving an entire family of five and all their accoutrement, especially since I don't know where we're moving. We do have three cars, so we figure that's three separate rooms for each of us. The boys can share the Jetta and thoroughly trash it with their crumbs and detritus, and the baby gets the Passat. We'll bunk down in the SUV.

The truth is, saying goodbye to Shuffles and her ilk will be sweet sorrow. The house is a good, solid place, and we're leaving it better than we found it. Good karma in that, right? There's a fine fat blueberry bush in the backyard about to bear fruit, and our wild raspberry patch has just delivered its first crop (the second arrives in late summer, too late for us to enjoy it). We'll also miss the harvest of the cherry tomatoes, peppers, and cukes—someone else will be feasting on those. And lo, the great chestnut tree. That tree is a beauty. I think I'll miss the rampant plonking of chestnuts atop car roofs this fall most of all; my boys collect them like treasure and line them up along the front yard. Pockets turned out at end of day, in autumn, always reveal a hoarded chestnut or two.

Even the insistent thrum of the trucks beyond the fence has become familiar. Three hoochies stuffed into tube tops just strolled down our street, enjoying the night air, and a bonehead driving too fast the wrong way up our one-way street can always be anticipated. (As my # 1 son says, "You always have to look both ways when crossing a street because there might be an idiot going the wrong way.")

Today on my walk with the infant, I spotted a shopping cart leaning up against a rusty fence. Right down the block, I saw where the city has torn up lovely old bluestone sidewalk slates and replaced them with concrete. The slates are lying there abandoned. Some thuggish types were tossing a ball in the street. It may well be that this neighborhood will "turn around" in a few years and the houses will shoot up in value, but some of the people who live here probably don't care for those pioneering Brooklynites who thought they would forge a path into the wilderness. They don't care about "turn arounds." That's just for snobs like us. They just want a place to live.

Then, of course, you get the opinion of the outsider. My good pal just arrived from Billyburg on Friday and sat on our porch. "This is delightful," she pronounced. "What a great place. What a great house!" And indeed, it is. We'll miss it (provided that the contract gets signed.) I'll miss my boys running around the house in sweeping circles, through kitchen, music room, living room. "Say boo when I run past!" they command. And we do, hiding in the few corners and snatching at their unwary legs as they shriek. Not too long ago, the elder boy dragged the younger--just learning to run--each clasping one end of an uncoiled Slinky. The younger would get left behind and then--sproing!!--would stagger to catch up as the Slinky hauled him forward. They run, their legs get longer, and they are lean and strong.

When they see our older neighbor, they scream a welcome like he's their very own granddad. And run to him, asking to help carry trowels or swab down his truck. They have a "rock garden" behind the garage with trucks and buckets filled with supplies, including leaves and dirt and clippings from the hedge. Wearing their little French Foreign Legion style sunhats, they work back their with the assiduous nature of those who expect to earn a large paycheck for their labors. Sometimes they pinch a half-ripe raspberry or dig too close to the pansies.

It's their world, and it's a fine one. They'll remember nothing but good of this place.

No comments: