Land

It’s a tiny piece of land, a peninsula of grass between two roads – mine a crescent, the other a straight road joining others like tributaries feeding a main road. In winter, that’s where they dump the snow, until most of my view is blocked by this white giant. We’re in the countryside so it stays mostly white. It becomes an ephemeral feature of the land. It sets me dreaming about Antarctica and the great explorers.

The land stands there undeveloped across my house. The neighbour mows it, though it’s not his. I reckon he wants to keep the value of his house up. He drives his lawn tractor up and down, a drink in the drink holder though he never takes a sip. I think he likes the idea of a drink more than the actual drinking. Sometimes, a cat tries to chase something, but the grass is not tall enough to hide so he ends up licking his paw and grooming himself. There is not much life on that patch. No trees for birds, no vegetable patch. Someone tried to grow a few flowers once, but the neighbour paid it no heed, mowed the whole thing down.

He’s got family. They’ve got kids. The kids sometimes play tag quietly on the tongue of land. As soon as a parent sees them, they shriek in alarm. There are roads! We told you not to play there.

There are roads, but no cars. The kids know it, the parents know it. I wonder if the whole charade is for my benefit or for the detriment of the children or the glory of the parents. I don’t say anything, but I watch by the window all day. The children resent me because they can’t hate their parents. They are too young. They have not yet learned it is allowed, a natural progression through independence and adulthood, via the necessary years of analysis.

I used to worry someone would buy it and dump an unsightly car there. Or that a dwarf would build a tiny house for his family on it. I used to appreciate the barrenness of that strip of land, its stark austerity. I used to boast about the view, the quiet, the privacy.

I have grown older. I was old to begin with, and it hasn’t gotten any better with time. Now I wish I had bought that strip of land and built something outlandish on it, maybe a sculpture, maybe planted trees. Even a few fruit trees would have been nice. I would have been busy chasing away the birds, putting nets over the fruits, hoping for honeybees, chasing the kids away with brooms. I would have made compote, marvelled at the blooms in Spring, worried about hail pockmarking them. The cats and squirrels would have frolicked in their branches, maybe even built nests. The cat would have had something to chase. But I might have fallen down a ladder, have had to tend to it, had too much to eat and not enough people to give the food to. It would have gone to waste. Better to have this barren piece of land peopled by dreams…

 

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