Home is where … wher­ever

The Compass - - SPORTS - Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com

Back on Hal­loween, only two hob­gob­lins threat­ened to trick me and Dear­est Duck if we didn’t con­trib­ute to the jum­ble of loot in their bulging pil­lowslips. Once upon a time hordes of spooks came rap-a-tap­ping.

To state the ob­vi­ous: times have changed.

The pop­u­la­tion of the GPA — Greater Pla­cen­tia Area — is shrink­ing. Take a walk, take a drive and you’ll see fewer chil­dren and young peo­ple than would have been vis­i­ble a decade ago. More likely you’ll see old codgers and their wrin­kled com­pan­ions mo­sey­ing along the road­side, or sit­ting in their lawn chairs, or, if you go in­side, tee­ter­ing in line­ups at The Mall.

Only scat­tered kids are wail­ing for loonies at the plas­tic pony rides.

So, a cou­ple of day af­ter Hal­loween, I was not en­tirely sur­prised to dis­cover Dear­est Duck in the base­ment root­ing through the bushels of snap shots she’s al­ways in­tended to sort be­fore we go to live with Je­sus.

“Harry,” she said, “lug th­ese boxes up­stairs.”

I toted boxes up to the kitchen un­til both my aged back and legs ached.

Dust­ing her palms, Dear­est Duck fisted in and dealt pack­ages of photographs un­til our ta­ble top, strewn with snaps, looked as if a gag­gle of gam­blers had folded and hove in their hands.

I’m a sooky wuss, the worst of wimps. I walked away from the sight of Dear­est Duck sort­ing pic­tures of the past — our kids as tots, Dear­est Duck with­out a sign of sil­ver in her honey locks, moi, my six-pack abs not yet sagged over my belt like Santa’s sack.

I turned to drink. A dou­ble cup — two pack­ets of Ten­sion Tamer in a king-sized mug — of herbal tea might soothe me in my chair as I pon­dered how the years have waned.

Or, p’raps, with a smidgen of luck, I’d fall asleep.

Per­chance not to dream of the GPA’s de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion.

You didn’t think I’d for­got­ten that, eh b’ys?

Not only have the area’s grown chil­dren tally-hoed thither and yon for lives of their own, but also adults — re­tirees, pen­sion­ers, creaky ol’ cur­mud­geons such as I — have bro­ken up house­keep­ing and shuffed off.

But nei­ther I nor Dear­est Duck have packed our trunks, stashed our fam­ily pho­tos, and cast en­vi­ous eyes to­wards The Capi­tol.

“Now’s the time to move,” says this one, and that one, and Buddy over there. “Seller’s mar­ket. Get top dol­lar for your house. Or rent it for a thou­sand bucks ‘cause times are good.’” “Nay,” say I. How can I leave all it is pos­si­ble to sur­vey from a tall win­dow, or, con­sid­er­ing the rapid so­porific ef­fects of herbal tea, dream­land?

Ma­ture maples, birches and weed­like wil­lows stand where once only looses­trife and this­tles grew. Peren­nial flow­ers grow on the back­yard graves of beloved pets. Years of wheel­bar­row toil have trans­formed bog into a per­fect Zen Ditch, its banks in sum­mer smoth­ered by a jun­gle of Ja­panese knotweed.

No, b’ys, I’m not go­ing to up-heave and leave my ru­ral domi­cile, for a postage stamp lawn and brand new ster­ile walls.

“Harry,” calls Dear­est Duck from the kitchen ta­ble where, I s’pose, she has tow­ers of snaps stacked ac­cord­ing to age, or sub­ject, or the de­vo­lu­tion of my manly physique as it has mor­phed from youth­ful stal­wart­ness to sex­a­ge­nar­ian stoop.

“Harry,” she calls again. “Are talk­ing fool­ish­ness in your sleep?”

“Not fool­ish­ness, my Duck,” say I, tilt­ing my mug to read the dregs of my herbal tea. “Not fool­ish­ness, but stead­fast truth.”

“Sounds like fool­ish­ness to me,” is Dear­est Duck’s de­fin­i­tive re­sponse.

Here, let me sit up straight and re­view the cir­cum­stances.

Now is a good time, it seems, to leave the GPA. Vale/Long Har­bour em­ploy­ees are look­ing for lodg­ing. Houses are sell­ing for trea­sure chests topped up with toonies. Rooms and apart­ments and en­tire houses are rent­ing for buckle-your-knees bucks.

Now is the time to fold one’s tent — in a man­ner of speak­ing — and move to where the grass, or what­ever, is green­est. Greener, any­way.

But not my Duck and I. We’re de­ter­mined to stay here in the Happy Ever Af­ter un­til both our mor­tal coils are shuf­fled off. How­ever… How­ever, if some­one were to say, “Harry, here’s half-a-mil­lion dol­lars for your house and land,” we’d be gone like dou­ble-bar­rel shots, like Wile E. in pur­suit of the Road Run­ner. Meep! Meep! Thank you for read­ing.

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