Friday, July 2, 2010
#124 – TERRI ON THE PHONE
I see the Iris Farm again on my way back from breakfast. I try to keep this farm scene in my mind but still not forget those dark and dangerous corridors from the past. I turn off again onto Davis Road, pass the two small new houses just beyond the turnoff – the words “upstart houses” come in from somewhere nasty – then into the open field area before the big houses begin. And then the black silhouette cutout of the murdered greyhound that Terri had nailed to the post beneath her mailbox, and now I am on her quite long driveway that ends in a circle in front of the two wings of White Wings.
From outside I can hear Terri talking loudly on the phone. No more marijuana haziness. The happy, sometimes sweet, sometimes deep, strong voice of the Terri of many years back. The confident pretty girl of the past. As if nothing has changed in her rich childhood summer home.
Inside her wing there were paintings she had collected – including semi-abstracts by Milton Avery’s sister and deeply evocative scenes in watercolor of light and shadows on snow. The day I arrived she had told me something I had not heard before, that in the brief time between starting college and dropping out she had taken studio art courses and that all along her desire had been to be an artist, though she had not touched art materials in many years, and had none with her in White Wings.
And now she is sounding happy on the phone. She is laughing. And then she is saying, “You’ll never guess who’s here.” Then she is saying “Fred Poole.” And then she is saying, “Come right over.”
By this point she is out on the second floor connecting walkway holding her cordless phone. She gets off the phone and says “That was Mrs. Miner.”
I knew Terri had been staying in touch with Mrs. Miner some years back, and had actually, when broke, worked with Mrs. Miner closing down summer people's houses. But that was another time, and I had assumed that by now Mrs. Miner was long dead. She had been my grandparents’ cook and housekeeper, in charge of lesser servants and all practical household matters at White Pines, a woman I had assumed in childhood was my grandparents’ age.
And now a big old unfancy car, a car of a sort I cannot identify but I am not good at identifying most cars. This old unfancy car turns in at the greyhound cutout, and, in slow motion, it seems to me, comes up the driveway to the circle where Terri and I are now standing. And slowly it comes to a stop. And the door on the driver’s side is opened, and out steps, still in slow motion, this extremely comfortable looking woman who incredibly is Mrs. Miner, who is still fleshy and soft and moves like someone strong who would have to be much younger, she must be so old now. I have not seen her since I was maybe 12 years old, 40 years back, but here she is, mysteriously unchanged in this place where they always claimed that nothing ever changes. And from the passenger’s side the other door opens and a younger but still old woman steps out, and Mickie says you must remember Gracie, who had been Mrs. Miner’s tiny daughter, whom Nana insisted they seat at formal dinner parties at the long shiny dining table at White Pines if without this extra person present the number at the table would come to the number 13. This little village girl in a little girl dress seated there with mostly old people in tuxedos and evening gowns, Nana at the head of the table, dressed in one of her unique Chinese style pants suits, which were somehow formal and from a time way back before pants suits had not been invented and there had been a vogue in such circles for all things hinting of the Chinese. The silk suits making Nana, even with her perfect stiff posture, look more comfortable than anyone else.
Mrs. Minter looks at me with a wide open smile, holds out her hand, says, “It is so good to see you. I always wanted to find you. I always felt so bad about what happened when you were a child here.