Muse. Ramble. Rant. Repeat



Summer Afternoon.

Hot humid weather surrounds me like a blanket. Cup in my hand – hot tea boiled until the colour of coffee. I take a sip and grimace. I try to subtly add another teaspoon of sugar but I don’t want anyone to see – this table drinks it black. To do anything but is practically blasphemy.

We’re sitting in the kitchen – the most important room of the house. Food, warmth and conversation are always flowing. Dishes have already been cleared away from the large wooden table. Dinner (which is actually lunch) consisted of the old Nova Scotian standbys – fresh vegetables boiled in cream and butter; meat piled high from the barbeque; salads loaded with mayonnaise and salt. We’re onto tea now with blueberry cake baked this morning.

Kids – today they are mostly tweens and teenagers – run around. In and out of the house, down to the beach and across the street to visit summer friends. They have already finished eating. They get to eat first but are always shooed away quickly since they aren’t old enough to sit and gossip. I’m not sure at what age you are old enough – 19, 20? Maybe once you have a baby or a fiancé? I only know that you get invited to tea and that is your signal that you are allowed to stay.

My grandmother surveys her table. She may be physically aging but her mind, energy and wit are still in tact. She always has a handle on what is going on. Today, she has only four of her seven children here. When I was little and Germans were described I’d picture mother’s family – tall, blonde, pinked skin and blue-green eyes. Twenty-one of my twenty-five cousins also fit this description. Twenty-one of my cousins can pass as brothers and sisters. Somehow, my sister, myself and two other cousins missed out on these genes. We, thanks to our fathers, have dark hair. Only my sister and young cousin have brown eyes. My brother however, fits the german description perfectly. This, genetically speaking, has always seemed impossible to me, but it’s what happened.

We’re in a small town. This town once had industry – fishing, pulp, shipbuilding – now it has few ways to make money. Somehow, people survive. Most move away and send money home to support their families. There isn’t much to do in this town. From what I’ve gathered, people mostly gossip; as my family is doing right now. I listen to the conversation – names and information being batted back and forth – and try to keep up.

“Mary Jo Smith, who’s Jimmy Jones’ daughter, works at the bank, and she told me she saw Suzie McDonald, who lives in the Sampson’s old place, cash a cheque from Bob Smith. They say those two are running around but they claim they just work together”
My grandmother interrupts my aunt
“Not even being discreet, it’s a disgrace and shame”
My aunt doens’t skip a beat
“Ann Smith is threatening to leave him, now you know she has no money, she comes from the McLellans and their business hasn’t been so good lately, I mean just the other day Mrs. was using coupons in the co-op, but to leave such a good provider is a shame. If only he could be more discreet.”

A breath of air while everyone sips on their tea. More details about the affairs of everyone in town. My mind starts wondering. I could never live in a small town, too much business is known. You can’t bank, shop or breathe without someone taking note and passing it on over tea. I was brought up in the city (if Halifax does qualify as one) and thus have what is deemed as “modern ideas”. My sister will get talked about for not having dinner prepared for her man every night. Or for how strange it is that her husband will look after their children. I once got into trouble for calling out women (in general) for staying with their cheating husbands; completely forgetting that my aunt (specifically) was doing just that. I also am considered strange because I’m currently the bread winner in my household – probably always will be. I also have no immediate plans to have children, and am getting married without a) existing children or b) being knocked up. That just isn’t how it’s done in this town.

For now, I stay silent. I don’t comment on the ridiculousness of staying with someone who cheating on you; of refusing to let your children go to the city to attend university because they will be hooked on drugs and waste your money. Today, I’ll take it all in. Enjoy my cake and just listen to a way of life that will disappear when the last business moves out of town. That and I try to sneak more sugar into my tea.

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Comments

  1. * LiLu says:

    I LOVE your blog title.

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 11 months ago
  2. * mmacc says:

    Thank you! I love you and your writing.

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 11 months ago


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