On Cultivating Friendship

Good Letters | 6/13/2018 | Staff
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On a festive Sunday evening in what should have been spring (nearly sixty degrees at the zenith and sunny), as neighbors were crossing the road to feed apple cores to the cows, I left our house after dinner for a walk.

Our house is 150 years old. It needs work at all times. It’s made of orange clay brick with limey mortar, white gingerbread cutouts on the gables, and rotting soffits and sills. About a mile down the road is another house similar to ours, built in the same era, a former schoolhouse. I saw a lady there about my mother’s age mowing her lawn.

Gardens - Contractor - Areas - Brick - Back

I’ve always wanted to talk to her, to tell her that I love her gardens and also to ask about her contractor. There are areas where her brick has been repaired, and in the back she recently put on a new addition, matched to the old with the utmost care.

She supplied me with references, then took me on a walk around the exterior of her house, pointing out areas where she’d stained the old brick to make it match. In the past handful of years, she’d lost her husband and her mother. She’d completed all the projects she’d hoped to complete, and was now unsure what to do with herself.

Inside - House - Accumulation - Thrift - Furniture

The inside of her house was an accumulation of late attic/early thrift furniture, lots of dusty velvet, oriental rugs, an assortment of strange little figurines, and dark wood moulding. All the external objects surrounding this woman from the brick house, to the Russian sage and hemlock in her garden, the way she did her hair and makeup (lip-gloss, blush, and a swipe of mascara on her upper lashes only) revealed that this is a person who likes all the things I like, and perhaps, is very...
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