Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mary Helen Blew Me Kisses

Sunday report: At 9 a.m., I rolled out of bed. I pulled on my "Minot Beavers" sweatshirt and old black pants, carefully backed the Honda down the driveway (always an accomplishment when I've just waked up), and cruised down Court. I timed myself just right: there was a train drumming along the tracks between Dort and Averill, but the last car slid by when I was a half block away. (I wish I could say it was a caboose because I love that word, was an ordinary greasy black oilcan. Well, there, I've said caboose anyway) The arms went up just as I got there, so I actually didn't have to brake. And then I got cafes mocha and NYTimes for my next door neighbor Mary Helen and me, enjoying the old Neil Young tunes they were playing. When I got home, I went through Mary Helen's back gate as I always do and I could see her up, padding around the kitchen in her PJs.

I love Mary Helen. Soon after I moved in and my first New Yorker arrived in the mailbox, my mail carrier casually said one day, "Did you know both you and your next door neighbor get the New Yorker?" I don't know if that's legal to say, but I appreciated it. We started comparing notes over the back fence. One glorious Sunday morning that first summer, we caught each other goofing off in our respective backyards. She called over,

Some keep Sunday going to church
I keep it staying at home,
With a bobolink for a chorister,
And an orchard for a throne.

Any lapsed preacher's daughter worth her salt knows that Emily Dickinson poem well, and I couldn't believe I had the great luck to have a neighbor who would quote ED over the back fence. I'm terrible at memorizing poems, but I ran inside and pulled the rest of it up on Google and gave it to her on a notecard:

Some keep Sabbath in surplice,
I just wear my wings
And instead of tolling the bell for church,
Our little sexton sings.

God preaches, a noted clergyman,
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of going to heaven at last
I'm going all along.

Anyway, usually, especially in winter, I never go in when I drop off her paper -- just leave the decaf mocha and paper on the table in her sunroom, her two little doggies Nannie and Zooey barking exuberantly. They know me, which is nice. From the kitchen window, Mary Helen blew me kisses. It was raining, and I like that, too. The air smelled great. It was a heavenly Sunday.

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