The Outsider: Scrubby grass and stolen canoes
|By Will Jones - The Outsider | August 18, 2018|
Every writer loves a metaphor, that turn of phrase which perfectly describes something without actually having anything to do with it, and it was as I mowed my backyard on the weekend that one such metaphor struck me.
I’d finished the main lawn and the dog’s pen, the bit by the river and the square that used to be our veggie garden. I’d even done the awkward lawn that sits up above the rest, surrounded by old railway ties and, frankly, I was just about fed up with mowing but there was one last bit to do.
Begrudgingly I pushed the mower – yes, it’s a push mower because I’m eternally cheap – to the edge of the driveway where a scrubby patch of grass grows next to the road. In fact, it grows out into the road. There’s no neat edge to it, no kerb, no asphalted start to the road surface, no real end to the driveway nor the grass. It just sort of runs out, stopped from spreading only by the occasional crushing from a passing car but not being annihilated by myriad traffic either.
I guess what I’m getting at is that there is no real border, a lack of delineation, a blurring of lines between lawn and road and I like that because as I mowed, it reminded me of the relaxed, happy nature of my life here in rural Canada. It makes me smile as I think of how my property blends seamlessly into my neighbour’s, no need for a fence to state “Keep Out.” It brings to mind how folks just leave their canoe down by the creek or pond, knowing that it’ll be there next time they go to use it. My patch of scrubby grass that stretches out into the road is a metaphor for the good spirit that I have found here in Canada.
Now, this might seem silly but back in Blighty everything is different. Every square inch of the country is portioned up and guarded jealously by its owner. Postage stamp size backyards are fenced in behind six-foot high barriers. Driveways are paved to the exact spot where they meet the public pavement, their borders crisp and decisive, marked with concrete kerbs or paving bricks. Everyone knows exactly how much property they own and woe betide anyone else who crosses that line without permission. But the thing is, they do. This incessant need to mark out and protect property seems to have bred a nation of petty thieves because back in Blighty if you leave your canoe out on your lawn and turn your back, it’ll be gone.
Even though there’s not a stretch of river nor murky pond for that thief to paddle it in because they’re all fenced off and on someone else’s property.
I push the mower back to the shed past my own canoe. It lies in the front yard that has no fence around it, no “Beware Guard Dog” signs and I grin because I know it will still be there tomorrow morning because I sleep on the front porch with a shotgun in my lap ... metaphorically speaking, of course.
WILL JONES - is The Outsider