Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Romance Next Door

I live in a milk carton shaped farmhouse. In fact, I've heard our 96-year-old house is the original farmhouse in this area. My 84-year-old neighbour told me that; he knows more about this "neck of the woods" than anyone else. I believe him.

There is a large window on the side of my milk carton that looks down onto this neighbour's roof. His is a small home, with a small roof, and a small brick chimney, but his roof fills my window 2/3 full, topped with whipped sky and sprinkled with night stars. When we first moved in five years ago, the roof was fully covered with diamond-shaped black asphalt shingles. Winter by winter, blistering summer day by blistering summer day, the asphalt singles have been disintegrating, exposing a layer of disintegrating cedar shingles beneath. I'm sure the roof-top scampering of squirrels and raccoons have helped, too.

Everyone that comes into my milk carton comments on the ugly roof next door. I listen. Then tell them this story.

Every day, I wake up to the view of his roof and the eastern sky, where the sun rises. Sometimes the light is shades of rose (red sky at morn, sailors be warned). Sometimes it is goldenrod stretching into midnight blue. Sometimes the moon can still be seen over his steadfast chimney. Often, sleepy steam rises with the sun's rays. This morning, fog enshrouded his entire home, bare naked trees fade in the background.

The wood is textured and raw, and shingles slip down like satin dresses. Scattered here and there haphazardly, new moss grows abundantly. The roof is dappled in vibrant green and brushed with dew. I find his roof romantic, historic, mysterious, and sensual. Yes, sensual.

Not everything in this world needs to be new, young, fresh, neat, tidy. The roof next door is perfect for me: an ever-changing canvas that causes pause every morning. I will miss it when it's gone.

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