Summer is here! And those who sleep through the winter have joined us humans, especially in Toronto. I wrote and performed the following monologue a few years ago to offer our every-day summer experience from a Canadian, furry perspective.
We haven’t always lived out here in this ole Manitoba maple, you know. Nope, we used to live in a big house, me and the wife and kids. It was grand – natural brick walls, cathedral ceiling and exposed beams, a realtor’s dream. It was a loft apartment in ‘
move-in condition’ – after a little DIY to make the front entrance more stately. And the neighbours – you just don’t find folks like that anymore.
I remember when me and Mildred and the kids first moved in; it was Canada Day and the humidex was off the charts. Berty and Osmond and Nell were just little then and so restless, what with the heat. None of our family is exactly light on our feet, but not a murmur of complaint from downstairs. In fact, we’d just settled in when those folks, Humes their name was, slid open the little connecting doorway between their apartment below and ours above and one of them stuck her head in, looked a bit startled, but said, “Ohhh your masks are darling” and left. Mil, who is a bit on the formal side, thought we didn’t really know each other well enough for personal comments, but they made up for it. They came back with, would you believe, a fancy wire welcome basket. Now me and Mil are no strangers to the best seafood and fish to swim in a saltchuck but I’m telling you that Digby chicken was the best ever. We had to laugh though, at their playful sense of humour. They put our bit of fish in this enormous basket and when we helped ourselves the lid slammed shut so fast that, once, Herbie almost got his fingers pinched! They played this game eleven times before finally conceding to us – such fun.
It was so hot, one afternoon Mr. Hume popped up with a worried expression and a big basin of water. He said, ‘We don’t want you guys to expire up here’. Sweet. And it wasn’t easy for them to keep coming up like that. They had to haul in a ladder to place under the little door for every visit. We wanted to reciprocate in some way but you know it’s hard to entertain when you work nights.
Then, as if they hadn’t already done enough, they gave a party in our honour – the kids were thrilled. Mrs Hume slid open the door and left a gorgeous platter of fish and brewis with a side order of flipper pie and topped off with a butter tart. When we came to receive this feast we found the other neighbours standing around the ladder sipping ice wine. They waved and oohed and aahed and we watched each other for a while but just as I had worked out how we could properly join the festivities and started to step through they closed the door. Not much of a party really but then as Mil said later, ‘They obviously aren’t as used to socializing as we are and it’s the thought that counts’.
So we were very quiet for the next two days to show our appreciation for their hospitality. We were so quiet they may have thought we’d moved out. Suddenly, to our surprise, Mr Hume was standing at our front entrance, on a tall ladder, hammering a piece of copper sheeting right over the doorway! Well, we were stunned. Mil thought Mr. Hume must be suffering from beaver fever.
It didn’t take us long though to put two and two together – the Humes wanted to make sure there would be no drafts whipping into our place come winter. Now I don’t know how those folks make their living but it’s a fair guess that it’s not in construction. Do you know there was no way to open that copper door they installed? I thought whoooa – there’s food gathering to do and the kids need to get out to play and Mil is far too social to just stay at home, so I said to Mil, “You go knock on the connecting door and explain the situation to them”. She tapped gently at first then a little harder and in the end we were all banging on the door but no response.
However, the next evening at about dusk there was Mr. Hume on the big ladder prying off the new copper door. I knew he wouldn’t let us down, but he did the funniest thing when we went out for the evening. He called out a number as each of us appeared. I must admit when I came out last and heard him say, “number five”, with a kind of flourish, I felt a little self-conscious. But we smiled and went about our nightly business.
We got back home in the wee hours and, as usual, we were beat. We went straight for the entrance … it was gone! We thought we must be so tired we’re disoriented so we walked round and round the roof. There was some wet paint we hadn’t seen before, but no doorway. Finally, we gave up the search and climbed down. That’s when young Nell, spotted this state of the art maple tree with a clear available for occupancy look about it. So here we are snug as a batch of poutine in a wanigan.
Ohh and the Humes – they still live in the big old house. I think they miss us. In fact, it’s most likely they are responsible for the weekly grocery delivery – comes in a big plastic bin with a full range of muckymuck. Mil and I had to laugh though; they’re still playing their games. This food bin has a twist locked lid to challenge us. That’s our Humes, bless em.
But, no worries – It only takes a minute to undo the lock.