Tell me again: why am I leav­ing this place?

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - LOR­RAINE SOM­MER­FELD www.lor­raineon­

It wasn’t a pre­med­i­tated theft, though it was a crime of op­por­tu­nity.

I was putting out my re­cy­cling when I spied my neigh­bour do­ing the same thing.

“Quinton!” I hollered. “Do you have a cof­fee ta­ble?” He paused. “Yes.” I’m sure he felt this was a safe an­swer.

“Can I have it for two weeks?” I asked. “Yes.” And that is how a neigh­bour­hood should work. I’d been told to make my house look pretty so prospec­tive buy­ers could imag­ine their own lives tak­ing place here.

I needed a cof­fee ta­ble I didn’t own to hold the vase I rarely used that was full of flow­ers I didn’t like. On the ap­pointed day, Quinton in­deed showed up, ta­ble in tow.

Pammy came in a few days later and pointed to the cof­fee ta­ble.

“That looks good. You should keep it,” she said.

“It’s Quinton’s. I have to give it back.”

“Maybe he won’t miss it,” she rea­soned.

I’ve had the same thoughts with some of my sis­ter’s linens. All this good taste might have a last­ing ef­fect.

What doesn’t have a last­ing ef­fect is flow­ers. I’d clipped a bunch from my own gar­den ini­tially, Dad’s tulips. I do like tulips, and I like them even bet­ter when they droop over and die, which is a good thing be­cause they do that quite promptly.

The tulips from my gar­den are also enor­mous, with heads the size of small can­taloupes. As they scat­tered their petals one by one, as el­e­gant a death scene as ever played out on a larger stage, I liked them even more.

A real es­tate agent came by and sug­gested I might want to liven up the cof­fee ta­ble. With my own gar­den strip mined for flow­ers, I looked out my front win­dows.

I al­ready had a deal with other neigh­bours, Jan and Cather­ine, to babysit the cats dur­ing open houses, but no­ticed that Quinton had a lot of tulips. I grabbed a pair of scis­sors and went out­side.

Jan and Cather­ine were put­ter­ing in their gar­den.

“Quinton’s not home. Do you think he’d mind if I stole some of his tulips?” I asked them. They shrugged. “Prob­a­bly not, but take some of ours, there’s more around back.”

Again, I have the best neigh­bours. I snipped a few here and a few there, fig­ur­ing no­body would no­tice if I didn’t overdo it. The fresh re­cruits lasted a few more days, un­til the in­evitable droop set in once again.

Scis­sors in hand, I headed over to Quinton’s again. He saw me com­ing and, I’m sure, went to lock his front door.

“Can I steal a few of your tulips?” I asked him.

“I have a whole bunch in back. Sure,” he laughed.

Be­hind his house, he had a dozen of the coolest tulips I’ve ever seen.

“What are these, Dr. Seuss tulips?” I asked him.

They had elon­gated petals and sprung out on long, bendy stems.

I loved them, and I clipped ev­ery one as he watched.

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” I asked when it was too late if he did.

I told him how good they would look on his cof­fee ta­ble.

“Take what­ever you need,” he said. “Just don’t ask me to watch those cats.”

I trun­dled back across the street, tulips in tow. I pulled cat cages up from the base­ment to get ready for an open house.

And I ad­mit I won­dered, again, why I was leav­ing this neigh­bour­hood.

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