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cardinal love, coming home

There’s a wonderful scene outside: I propped a long mirror against the south wall in the garden, thinking it would go somewhere eventually – and now I see that the cardinal has fallen in love. He’s married; Mrs. Cardinal is usually nearby because their nest is in a tree at the bottom of the garden, but he keeps flying down to look at himself in the mirror, hopping back and forth, gazing with fascination.

I will move the mirror later today to keep their marriage safe. But for now, cardinal love is a signal that it’s spring at last; the sun is shining, the robins, sparrows, finches, and cardinals are singing full force, nesting, soaring. There’s a sweet cover of green on most of the trees and shrubs – the willow is bright yellow – and the gardening helpers are coming tomorrow so we can begin the big job of pruning and clearing away winter detritus.

Like the garden, like the city, your faithful correspondent has come through a long hard winter. After months of panic, exhaustion, and stress, how light I feel. I know, a renovation is not a cancer diagnosis. It’s not homelessness; in fact, it’s the opposite, it’s going through a rigamarole to improve one’s home. And let me tell you, though the process was excruciating and I would never do it again – (never say never, girl) – it was worth it. There is light. Things are in their place and they actually have a place to be put in. Things that have never worked in my 33 years in this house are fixed. It’s miraculous.

Of course, just saying this is asking for trouble, another sump pump explosion, perhaps; God knows what’s in store, as the house has a way of producing nasty surprises. My close neighbours at 306 and 310, for example, did not have a recent infestation of termites, but 308 did. I will be paying for all this for a long time to come.

The house and I went through the fire in August 2005, the complete rebuilding of the basement and main floor which took till spring 2006. Then this felt like a brand new house. A couple of stylish friends came to visit, loved the sparkling modern kitchen and asked to see the rest of the house. I remember the look on their faces upstairs, because that part was completely unchanged. Old floors and windows, a strange jumble of rooms, a skylight stuck in a closet –

But now the glorious skylight is the centre of the house, the ceiling is opened up, the walls are painted, the windows are fixed, the floors are new, I can hardly believe it. And by next week, both the rental suites will be occupied and I can start paying off the debt.

Anna and the boys are on their way over; we’ll go to the local playgrounds in the sun and then have a barbecue with Anna’s oldest friend Shani, who’s moving in Wednesday with her younger son Leo. Anna and Shani have been best friends since we moved here in September 1986, when they met at age 5 in Winchester Public School SK. Something has come full circle, and it makes me want to cry. I’ll watch the cardinal admire himself and have a laugh instead.

Just for today, I won’t think about the idiots in power, flooding, refugees, the heartbreaking list of injustices and horrors. Today, I celebrate rebirth.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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