‘Breaking Bread’ — Rosemary Leach studio event

Artist Rosemary Leach welcomes you to her 10th Annual Open Studio Event.

Vernissage Friday Nov 4th, 5-8pm. Exhibition continues Sat Nov 5 and Sun Nov 6th, 10am-4pm. 255 William Street Almonte, ON. 613.256.7719

img_5148I hate this toaster.

The silver mouth has multiple crevasses to catch sesame seeds. It has by a dull black plastic exterior that succumbs to pressure under my thumb. Light as a feather when I lift to clean it, seeds fly out all over the counter I am trying to wipe.

First world problems.

This morning I woke early. The whirring of the washing machine in the darkness is a clear testament to my industrious nature.

In the low-lit kitchen, windows black, I scrub granola trays, a sharp scratching of metal on metal. I swirl a gingham dishcloth in hot soapy water, squeeze and turn to the stove. I wipe remnants of greasy fish stew and lifting heavy grates to chase the weekly spray of oats from the stove.

Wiping away I am a tad smug about the absence of mouse droppings. Traps with peanut butter wait under the sink indicating that we might have won the battle, if not the war.

I have no claim to such success, as traps are not under my purview, but somehow the vacant traps indicate that we are really moving ahead in life.

I light a candle at my studio desk and sit down to write. A pendant light shines in my neighbour’s kitchen. Swim practice this morning for her daughters.

In the wee hours this parallel living feels like someone reading beside me. Quiet, oblivious, comforting.

***
Standing in line in front of me at the post office is a rounded broad back. Pilled and faded black cotton, she is spelling out her change of address.

The striped postal worker on the other side of the counter taps the keyboard sharply. She has shoulder length blonde hair, a thin nose, blue eyeliner.

A metal cane leans against the counter. State issue means mandatory ugliness.

I balance on my foot a boxed painting I am shipping, and consider advantages of various hair colours in my presumption that I will one day be struck with baldness.

I temper this tonal scale with the greater likelihood that I might not care a rat’s ass about what the back of my head might look like.

After spelling out her new postal code, she confirms there are no other names associated with the new address.

The thought that I have never lived alone pinches me sharply.

She sighs.

“Well I hope this is the last move!”.

What you hope for changes over time.

The medical phrase ‘circling the drain’ cruelly comes to mind. I push the thought away, true or heartless.

She smiles encouragingly and nods, kind but efficient. She serves dozens of seniors a day.

And, there is a lineup.

***

The café has those heavy velvet curtains around the door. Sunday morning and despite the rain the street and café are bustling. Our server is half my age, lithe, corporeal, and greets us with an authentic welcome. Her pale blue eyes undefended, they hold you, undefended.

She leads us to our table I notice she has a thin tattoo chain circling below her hairless forearm.

Her blonde hair is long on one side, shaved on the other. My husband later references this style as nasty. The frames of her glasses are chunky with clear stripes.

Seated in front of us is a table of six, scattered with dirty plates. Two women are planted in the middle, willfully ignoring the some number of children who are doing a musical chairs schtick I had forgotten about.

The women chat without looking at each other, both Sephardic with shoulder length black curls and expressions of resignation, mopping up egg with toast.

One of them has a one year old strapped to her chest. The baby gnaws on a piece of bagel horizontally, the way you might eat a cob of corn.

She has the same wispy mullet that my daughter had. Unlike so many svelte mothers I notice now, I was too tired to consider options like haircuts for partially bald babies, or creative, fashioning groovy little pigtails.

The baby’s eyes roll around as she checks out the ventilation tubes high above.

My eyes fill with tears.

The mother pushes her coffee away and extracts the child from the snugli. And then, in the way I might press a milk carton into a full kitchen garbage can, she stuffs her daughter into a one-piece outfit.

Baby limp like a cooked noodle, uncomplaining.

The gesture is more depleted than unkind.

The mother, with a decade of experience in her wake, scans the table for belongings and begins the herding process.

Our server cheerfully scoops up a napkin and a fork from the floor, bending easily and indifferent to the cleanup job ahead.

I smile at her and her eyes meet mine warmly.

When I grow up I will be just like her.

Artist Rosemary Leach hosts her 10th Annual Open Studio Event in Almonte on Friday Nov 4th, 5-8pm. Exhibition continues Sat Nov 5 and Sun Nov 6th, 10am-4pm.