Saturday, April 28, 2018

Ivy starts a new adventure

Ivy sat in her rocker. Looking out her attic window, Wrapped in her old quilt.  Watching the houses go dark. The rest of the town was falling into a long sleep on this blustery night.  The snow swirled in the bright circles cast by streetlights, and  in the headlights that moved slowly along the empty streets.  A few windows still glowed a soft golden through the curtains snowflakes and Ivy supposed those people were waiting on someone to come home from working second shift, or perhaps they were reading a good book, or may-be  they were just thinking about how this April was colder and snowier than December. 

Picking up her lantern,  she descended the creaky stairs, put an extra blanket on the bed,  nestled under the covers she drifted off for a long  nap.   Morning broke clear and calm, the sun shown down fiercely and by the time Ivy had finished her first mug of coffee, the eves were dripping.   By lunchtime  the snow was rapidly melting.   Out the kitchen window at the creek,  past the little bridge Gus built, and the town beyond, there were places to go and no reason not to go there, her restless mind told her.  Spring couldn't get here soon enough for her, her house grew smaller with each passing day, she wanted to see what was on the other side of the hill.   Winter was over according to the calendar, and as had happened so many time before she wanted to travel, not far, but far enough.  May-be back to Beans Cove or may-be just start out and see what she could see.

  She kept herself busy, looking for maps,  cleaning the bathroom, sweeping the steps and selecting her favorite and most comfortable clothing for her trip.  When it was time for the local news she took her soup and sandwich into the living room, and turned on the TV.  Until the weather forecast started she watched the sun setting, and was overcome with that strange sunset feeling, partly anticipation, and partly melancholy, and mostly hard to describe.   The phone rang right on time, because Ford, was like that.  Ivy explained her plan to him.  He listened patiently, and then extracted a promise from her that she would call several times a day. 

Time seemed to move very quickly now, as she prepared to set out on her adventure the next morning.  Ivy thought for a few moments that it was a foolish idea and that she should stay home,  but her wanderlust overcame that,  "a little trepidation is a sign of wisdom" crossed her lips as she carried  her bags to the car.  The gathering gloom of  night couldn't keep her from climbing the stairs to the attic window, it might be awhile before there was a light in the attic window again. 

The earth smelled of spring and the morning was clear and fresh, as Ivy drove out of town.   At the first intersection she turned onto the Old Pike Rd, more or less in the direction of Ramona's house.  Patches of snow  dotted the fields, and sparkled in the bright sunlight, the air smelled of fresh earth and old manure.  Ivy turned on the radio and settled  in for the long drive to Rockton.    There were occasional stops to take pictures with her new camera, and times when she wished she had read the instructions for ited,  at least she remembered and  brought them with her.

 A massive forsythia in full bloom, surrounded by snow, was something she had to stop and photograph. The wet snow soaked through her shoes and pant legs, and Ivy returned to her car to admire it in comfort.   The house that belong to the forsythia appeared abandoned, so Ivy felt sure it was a good place to turn off the engine and read the instructions for her camera. The booklet had very small print and it was slow going, but she struggled on until she heard a  voice say "Are you OK?" She looked up to see a tiny woman in a shawl and blue housedress, her hair was silvery white and  wispy around her deeply furrowed face,  she had her apron gathered up and full of something.  "Hello!" Ivy said, "I'm fine I didn't know anyone lived here, I'll be on my way."

Nonsense!" clucked the old woman, " come in and have some coffee with me, I get so few visitors, Please? ", her face  lit up by her her smile and crinkling twinkling eyes.  Ivy didn't know how to respond.  But she knew how loneliness felt, she drew in a deep breath and said "I'd love too." "I'm Tecla." she said as her wrinkled face turned into an even broader smile, "I'm Ivy." "Now let's go inside where it's warmer."  Ivy followed  her to the back door and they  hung their wraps on a rack in the tiny sun porch. 

The windows sills where lined with flower pots filled with soil, as if there might be seeds or bulbs planted in them.  "Hollyhocks", said Tecla," Hollyhocks and I always start new ones each spring." She began to unload the apples, potatoes. and mail from her apron, What's your favorite flower, Ivy?"  "It's so hard to choose." Ivy fell silent, lost in thought "Lily of the the valley."  As she drifted, from conversation  into memories.  "

Tecla opened the  vivid blue kitchen door and the warmth, and aroma of coffee, dragged ivy back to the present, she took off her wet shoes.  Before she could put them on the tray of pebbles near Tecla's boots she heard, "Bring those in here to dry.  Don't you just love Martha Stewart. I saw that tray of pebbles on her TV show, I miss that show.  Though sometimes it just too ritsy of an old gal like me.  My daughter-in law,  and I watch her every chance we get. Do, you?"    "Yes, yes I do.  I learned alot from her, but I never could figure out how she did all that stuff in one lifetime." Ivy mused.   Tecla laughed hardily, " I know, I really do.  And someday i might even tell you!" she reached out and tapped  her knurled fingers on Ivy's  necklace, "But then may-be you know, and just don't realize that you do.  Sit down."   There were coffee cups  placed  upside down on the kitchen table, and Ivy wondered if  Tecla had once been a waitress.  A large pot of soup was simmering on the stove, after putting the coffee pot back on the stove. Tecla stirred the soup and said, ""What some, made it myself!, used some stuff from our garden, I can't  managed the garden without my son and his wife's help anymore, but I love to try!  I still  picking berries with them and the kids and  make a little jam, too!" She said as she ladled out a bowl.  "You see that big hole between the trees, their house is through those, they fixed up this little house,  it used to be a candy store, for me to live in because I am such a bullheaded old gal." She paused, placed a bowl before Ivy, Ivy took a spoon from the old glass spooner on the table, she could see that none of the silverware matched and that also reminded her of her own Grandma.

Tecla continued, "You eat up, and when you finished I'll show you the rest of the house, and before I forget, bathroom is through that door with the polka dot curtains, got that fabric at a yard sale."  They finished eating in silence, "That was like my Mom used to make." Ivy said, "Mine too," Tecla returned, "Now lets go into the parlor and chat until you are ready to go."

"Bring your mug, and sit by the fire until your dungarees and socks are dry, make yourself at home.  My son and his wife wanted to keep and eye on me so they turned my Sam's little shop into a house, and I decorated way.  I'm old and can't do everything I used to, but it's better than the alternative."  She and Ivy  chuckled. "I will stay here until I can't stay by myself anymore, then" she paused " we will see. So anyway , Ivy, do you sew or crochet?"
"Yes" Ivy replied, "Married?  I was married for 62 years when my Sam crossed over the bar,  and I miss him everyday.  My son was surprised when I took up with Reg, but he's gone too.  I don't know if I  really want another Honey." Tecla paused and picked a ball of yarn out of a  basket by her chair an began to crochet.   Ivy began to speak, she told Tecla about Will and her children.  She talked about her garden and her  neighbor Mike, the "brilliant handyman", she talked about Sky and Gus and Adeline. She was just about to tell her about Ford, when Tecla put down her fancywork and  produced a cell phone from her apron pocket.  She looked at Ivy with a contented smile and  stated " He worries, so I have to call him half a dozen times a day to prove i don't have pneumonia and two broken legs, when he is done  trying to act like my father, we won't be long, I want to hear all about your dear  Ford.  "I'll just go into the kitchen and give you some privacy."  Ivy replied.  Tecla stuck her tongue out and wagged her finger at an imaginary being...."More like you don't want to be embarrassed by my son the ninny." she chuckled.

The kitchen was at once a very modern and very 1940's, and she felt so cozy and peaceful there, and wanted to continue  their chat  in it's glow. Her phone was in a jacket pocket and that was in the Sun porch, she  tried to open the door quietly, and reach around to retrieve it.  Tapping  on the keypad she dialed first the office and then Ford's home number. Almost glad that Ford hadn't answered. she left a message. 

While she tried to quietly replace her phone she heard Tecla say, "Oh, yes, bring in you coat, and hang it on the chair, so  it's not cold when you leave.  I don't carry a purse either, if it doesn't fit in my pockets I probably don't need it."
"Can we stay here in the kitchen?"  Ivy blurted out.  "Never thought you'd ask, why of course, I like it better here too. So, I am a snoopy old gal, was that your Honey you called?"  Ivy blushed.  "Known him long?" 
"We met in High School, he can back to town awhile ago and well." Ivy was at a loss for words.  "The rest is bliss," Tecla chimed in "I can see it in your eyes, your whole face lites up. Now little Miss Ivy, I have to go see my brand new great, great granddaughter, so I am throwing you out.  You can go freshen up if you want."  Thanks , I will." Ivy said.  
Ivy returned to the kitchen table and at the place where she was sitting, was a paper sack.  "Now you take that with you in case you get hungry. And my cell number is in there also."  Much to Ivy's surprise Tecla was wearing jeans and a sweater, "I won't walk you to your car, but if you are ready I'll walk you to the door."   Ivy  stood up and put on her jacket while Tecla rumaged in a drawer, they women walked to the back door, and  then paused, Ivy put out her arms and they hugged.  "Now you call when you get home, and come back and visit, next time I just might let you get a word in edgewise."

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