The New Year is fast approaching, and this is the perfect time of year to wish those around you health and happiness in the coming year.
This year, I am excited to put something together for our neighbour Gary. He is an older gentleman, and is one of the most giving and loving people I have met. When we first moved here, Gary came outside in the blistering July heat with cold beer, to quench our thirst while lugging heavy boxes. When he saw us storing our first trailer in the street, he invited us to store our “wee trailer” in his back lane, as his yard has more room than ours (he has also called our 1974 Trillium “a cesspool on wheels,” but that is another story). He has a garden to die for, and his yard gets all the hot afternoon sun. Each summer I am gifted zucchini, carrots, peas or crab apples. If there is excess produce, he is sure to share. Many times I have come home to find a bag of fresh garden veggies hanging from my door handle.
So I am putting together a little basket of goodies. Some of my pickles and pickled garlic. A few bottles of homemade wine. A jar of crabapple pepper jelly, made from his apple tree. Some rum for good measure.
Gary has also given me the opportunity to meet Marion. Marion is Gary’s late wife, lost to cancer far before we ever moved here. Gary is a master story-teller, a man who can yack your ear off for hours if you wish. Through his stories, he has introduced us to Marion. I have seen them, in my mind’s eye, sharing a glass of Gary’s homemade wine on the front porch; nurturing a group of begonias through the winter, in their basement; gardening together throughout the summer months.
He recently loaned me a wheelbarrow, and asked if I wanted the big one or the small one. I asked for the small one, it would be easier to maneuver. He smiled and passed it to me. “That is Marion’s wheelbarrow.” His hand rested lightly on the handle as I took it.
The man, years later, is still clearly besotted. I often think he looks for reasons to bring her up in conversation, like a teenage boy with a new crush.
The way Gary speaks of Marion makes me hope my marriage has love like that. A love that makes a man smile to himself every time he says my name. A memory that pushes to the surface with each conversation. A love so deep that its loss dictates a year-long “walkabout” through Australia.
For 2014, and the years that follow, I wish you love; love and longing so pure, you caress the handle of a rusted wheelbarrow, simply remembering the hand that once rested there.
Happy New Year!