I was on the riding lawn mower when Julia returned. I thought she was going to be gone for the weekend, so I was surprised to see her black Saab pull into the short drive off of Swamp Road.
The Head’s house has a barn out the back door of the house. It was renovated sometime in the seventies. The 1970’s. It has an apartment upstairs. A set of stairs hang somewhat perilously off the outside of the barn. The door opens into a small studio apartment with amenities, including a washer and a drier. Below the apartment is room for their two cars and a small workshop/shed that Declan uses pretty regularly. He is a neat and methodical man in all things. No place you see it as plainly as in a man’s workshop.
I chose to mow because it helps me learn the lay of the land, literally. The weather has been threatening all day. The clouds have been gathering in an ominous fashion. A sensible man would take cover. I am waiting for the first, fat drops of rain to herald the deluge that is bound to follow. I pride myself on the straight lines I leave behind me as I mow the grass to a perfect 2.5 inches. As tempting as it is to go shorter and reduce the time until the next mow, if we go much shorter, it is bound to burn. I like the curiously mindless nature of this task. It’s a lot like driving. You can do it on autopilot and have absolutely no recollection of having driven to your destination.
Each time I pass the Head’s house, I see another installment in the drama of Julia and her guests arrival. Julia emptying the trunk of a few things. Julia leading a woman and two girls up to the guest quarters. Julia entering the back door of her own house.
Julia in running clothes. Julia gone.
I circle in on the very last strip of lawn that requires cutting on the common and .... plop.
The first, heavy drop of water falls. I head the mower toward the service garage on the back of Whately Prep’s property. Within one hundred feet of the garage, the skies open and the rain falls in a torrent. Welcome home, Julia.