I remember glorious Easter weekends in my childhood when amidst the general surge of warmth and sunshine I would find the warmest spot of all and occupy it happily. The warmest spot was inside the family station wagon parked in the gravel driveway.
I see my father washing the car with bucket and hose and a soft cloth while I sit behind the wheel, as if on a lily pad. I work the steering wheel and all the switches and buttons, imagining driving to Toronto by myself, driving to nameless cities full of night lights and television antennas and excitement. Meanwhile, the sun beats in through the windshield and I am warm as toast.
At the age of four I wanted a red convertible. At ten, any old car that I could drive myself. Now, of course, I hate cars and highways, and am not much of a driver at all.
It’s the end of April and rain has been coming down all day. I am waiting to hear from my editor. I am finding the wait as long as the rain. In this interval of waiting I have painted my study Rideau blue, a darker blue than the previous blue, because summer is coming and I want to feel that I’m where I want to be, which is in the shade.
On April 19 of this cold, wet, flooding spring, we put our canoe into the Rideau River a few blocks away and paddled over flooded pathways and riverbanks and around behind an island that was thick with red-winged blackbirds. The current took us a long way downstream and muscle brought us back. It was a perfect day, swollen with sunshine and wide river waters.
Afterwards, we sat on the back porch and drank beer and drank in the sunshine, thinking of my mother and father who used to love to sit in the same spot, taking the sunshine into their old bones. For the two of them, having come to the end of the road, the porch was their lily pad.
“I’m in love with your garden,” my mother would say. “I’m very much in love with this garden.” It took her back to her father’s garden in Renfrew and his early, wrenching death, while her own death refused to come.
And then finally it came on a beautiful April day two years ago. April 19.