Wild animals. I can't explain why, but if I spot a coyote or antelope in the country, a deer in the mountains, or even a jack rabbit down the block in the city, it always makes me smile Maybe it's the surprise (although a spider in the garden doesn't have the same effect) or the out-of-placeness of them in my city life.
Early spring flowers and buds on the trees. Can you blame me? After almost 8 months without, it's easy to see why this would cause pleasure.
But this does it as well.
Sometimes I see the name "Redcliff" on a Medalta crock at a garage sale or antique show, or it comes up in conversation with strangers also hailing from southern Alberta. The older I get, the more often I find I tell people that I was born in Redcliff instead of the Hat where I actually spent all of my growing-up years. Why is that? Is it because there's more family history there? Or does the obscurity of the small town just sound more interesting and add a "where is that?" to the conversation?
In this context the name conjures up memories. There's a local group called the Raving Poets who ask for the colour of the piece and the mood before creating music to accompany a poetry reading.
In the case, the mood is slow, hot and lazy and the colour is a combination of dry dust and brick red.
If you're family, you know the memory that's coming: the Year of the Brick.
It was probably only a few weeks for some of us. Dad had torn down an old brick building, a bank I think. He had predicted that the old bricks would be valuable to others building new houses (made to look old) or new/old fireplaces. I hope he made a profit from the venture, but I know that he made memories.
Many young kids and teenagers in the town spent time on the rubble site cleaning the bricks and stacking them on pallets. That meant painfully hacking the mortar off each brick with a small hatchet. Paid by the brick, we had the choice to work hard in the sweltering, unprotected heat or just make enough money to pay for the necessary Slurpies and Slushes to get through the day. A lot of socializing went on. I remember kids cheating - creating hollow pallets and collecting on a complete pallet. I remember a kid with huge feet (you couldn't say "Act your age, not your shoe size"), a lot of BMX stunts and one broken bone. Our 15 or 16 year old foreman took care of that, bringing the kid to the clinic.
Sometime after that a local authority shut us down, based on the ages of the kids working at the site and the relative unsafety of our attire. We all had gloves and hatchets but I think it was up to us whether we wore shorts or jeans, long sleeves or tank tops. It was really, really hot, but many of us didn't wear hats, some didn't have safety goggles, we were all bruised and scraped and sunburnt. But we were happy. We had some pocket money and we made friends, and we could wash the dust off our bodies in the neighbourhood pool every night. Only the few older teenagers got to continue. I was only 12 so I was out of work, one of the few times in my life I've been laid off. And there were no severance packages.
A good friend is cleaning bricks this week. Carefully knocking off the mortar of a neighbour's old foundation to make her kids a brick playhouse. What luxury! My kids have to live with a plywood playhouse and I'm anxiously waiting to kick them out and convert it to a chicken coop.
I have been gifted with bricks by a neighbour and don't have to remove any mortar. Just wheel them down the road and make paths. I've turned the Redcliff bricks face up so that I can smile as I see them.
Have a great day!