What Hangs Over?

“Heavy, heavy, what hangs over? Fine or super fine?”

It was a common game at birthday parties when I was growing up. The presenter or hostess would hold a gift over the head of the recipient and chant the question. I think we were always expected to say “super fine.” It was a gift, after all. But then the giftee had to guess how it would be used. In the kitchen? To be colored or painted? Hung on the tool rack? Worn — and, if so, where? You get the idea.

Fine.

It’s a little hard to explain because I realize some people don’t have a full-sized canoe above their bed.

Roof being roof-shaped, the bedroom ceiling was allowed to rise to its peak. The wall could go up as a normal wall would to meet the ceiling; but the builders pointed out that they could move the top wall back (actually even with the doorway) by adding a ledge over the bathtub in the next room. Why on earth not?

There just happened to be a new canoe in the house. Proudly built over weekends in Buffalo, it was painted and launched.

Well it was pretty obvious pretty fast that this was hardly sea-shape. Tippy would be a vast understatement. With a good canoe and kayaks, there seemed no reason for this pretty yellow-green vessel to need to see water again.

Lake water, that is.

It didn’t take too many moons to look one direction at the canoe, and the other at the big (long but narrow — bathtub size, remember) empty ledge in the bedroom. I have no clue how that boat got raised the full height of a normal room and settled on the platform. Now it just seems like it’s always been there. You know, “normal.” Filled with plants: some drooping, some tall, it was a marvel for years. Then, as plants do, they began to die one by one. The last ivy lasted until this spring.

What remains as I write are a scraggly something that drops leaves I don’t even see until they’re on the floor and one very large something else that daily bends just a little bit more into the room. Of course it will fall any one of these days, if not moved first. I couldn’t begin to move it from up there so I wait. Falling, it won’t, well, it shouldn’t, damage anything more than the root-bound soil which will come tumbling down with it. (I hope I’m not asleep when it falls.)

Superfine.

Nests, even more birds, have definitely filled my thoughts this year. I thought the blue jays nesting beside the house in 2018 was an anomaly, about as far out as any normal bird behavior could go. Why don’t I learn?

Apparently disdaining the newness the house-painters left, the robin forsook her normal spot on the drainpipe beside the front door. Choice instead (and you think a canoe in the bedroom is strange?) was to build a nest on top of an open window. The kind, you know, that crank out so there is some surface there.

The nest is obvious every time I walk out of the bedroom door and look north. Seems this bird wasn’t about to quit, for there are parts of a second and even third nest on the same window, the others along the bottom edge which has nothing of architectural value to offer.

Now I feel bad. I went to take another picture and scared her off the nest. I really doubted it was still in operation.

(I take my pictures but trust none until I hold print copies in hand. I know most do fine with these modern mechanisms. I have tried before and wiped out gems. No more. I hope I’ll get copies tomorrow.)

Remember Thurber’s “The Night The Bed Fell”? Yeah. And a literally dirty mess.

But I’ll have the pictures.

Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her Reason for Being was published in 2008 with Love in Three Acts following in 2014. Both novels are now available at Lakewood’s Off the Beaten Path bookstore. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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