by Ariela Zucker
6:00 am. Like every morning, I stand in front of the big kitchen window and wait for the water to boil. It takes about five minutes for the electric glass kettle to hum, then gurgle, then big bubbles explode against the glass, then quiet. In the meantime, I look at the neighboring houses below. It is still dark, but on the horizon, the sky turns light blue, and beyond the tree-line, faint orange and pink line can be noticed. I pour the hot water over the coffee in my glass, my special morning one and prepare a second cup for my husband, still asleep. Over my head, I can hear the dog’s footsteps on the second floor. In a few moments, he will tiptoe down the stairs and ask to go out.
The house is ninety-eight years old, older than any house I ever lived in. Every time I think of it, it makes me shiver a little and at the same time feel warm and safe. It’s a strong house, built with wood beams that do not exist anymore, by skilled builders who wanted the homes that they built to last for a long time. I like it that the second floor has its own entrance, and I can sit up there, and no one can see me. I like how the basement is wide and the ceilings high. The electricity lines, water lines, old telephone lines that are no longer in use, resemble a functioning body. The heart, I imagine is the huge furnace, or perhaps the electricity board.
The basement, more than any other part of the house, can tell stories about the past. There is a set of stairs being blocked now by the kitchen floor. Most old houses, I read somewhere used to have two sets of stairs. An official, wood carved one for anyone to see and admire and a second, plain and narrow, for the daily functions.
I look at the cobwebs in the corners. In moments of quiet, I think I can hear the spiders weave them, as I imagine I can hear the bushes outside try to find hidden cracks in the foundation and send in a branch, or two, to investigate. The snow melts outside and water trickle along the walls. In the spring small puddles form in the corners, then sucked into the cement floor and disappear.
To me, who grew up in another country, in a tiny apartment on the third floor of a faceless building this old house is an enchanting castle. I love how every occasionally, I still encounter signs of the people who lived here before us.
I am not from here. I will probably never be. But for a few minutes every morning when I stand by the window and wait for the water to boil I feel tranquil and grounded.
Ariela Zucker was born in Israel. She and her husband left sixteen years ago and now reside Ellsworth Maine where they run a Mom and Pop motel. She blogs at https://papredragon2017.blogspot.ca/