I would call it the first real spring day.
After a night shower, the sun came out and dried the balcony enough for me to join my neighbor, I with a Beck and him with his perennial cigarette, I on my rickety chair and looking at, as if tor the first time, the twelve or so balconies surrounding our common rear yard.
Yearning for some music I go back inside and put on Brubeck’s Time Out, and I am back in Fort Ord in the early sixties listening to the same record, on vinyl of course, on a Sunday morning when the barrack was ours.
Across the street, at the end of the yard, the same parade of cars enters the YMHA underground garage and leading to it, the same pole to pole wiring running here and there through trees.
It has been two weeks since my first wife died.
This is setting the melancholy mood I find myself in; missing her and by extension in general “missing” by anticipation what is around me on this lovely late afternoon.
Plants of all shapes and form echo the saxophone melody, from the lady’s flowered balcony corner…
…to the wild ivy that used to stream out across the grass from the facing building foundation to ours…
…to my own, now empty, flowering planter.
It was called Manila paper.
In my university water color elective class that was the paper recommended, its rough texture would scrape the bright paste off the Grumbacher square tipped sable brush.
Impossible to throw away this awkward sketch with my even more awkward pre-mature signature.
What I, already, have missed since she moved.
She being my across-the-yard ex-neighbor, it is the periodic hanging of her colorful wash on the metal railing of her balcony…
…and missing also is her electric Hanukah menorah, installed by her window all year round and lit up only during the holiday.
I would light up my own in angled retreat from my window allowing only the flicker of the candle light to suggest its presence … and mine.
Credit all sketches Maurice Amiel … how nice of him to have scanned them!
Credit the magic of a Montreal spring afternoon for the mood of the piece
Credit the music of Dave Brubeck’s for the stirrings of memory
The melancholy turn of the mood is due to J’s passing, this piece being submitted as a modest homage.