A hot day. So restless. Hawks circled slowly, high above the manicured back yards, perhaps eying the lap dogs sprinkled on the lawns. My life felt too small and I needed to break out. Solvitur ambulando. I set off walking mid-afternoon towards the familiar touchstones of library and post office, with a sense that something could happen would happen if I went out to meet it. Terry! Terry was just coming out of the PO and we had a happy and exuberant reunion on the sidewalk. All these years of living in the village and I had not met Terry until last winter when we both worked at Chapters in Langley. I liked this woman and had been shocked to discover that we both lived in town. Hers was the beautiful old wood house on Church Street, barely visible behind a latticework of greenery, aptly named Wildwood.

A short time after I’d left the bookstore Terry posted a jubilant comment on my blog site, saying that I had inspired her to quit Chapters, too. She had done the math and figured out that she could earn the same amount of money, no, a bit more, by teaching two art classes in the time it took to work four shifts at Chapters. Duh! Well pshaw, it was no credit to me. Terry is an educator, a children’s book author and illustrator, and one of the most creative, artistic people ever! Chapters has a very high turnover and eventually if a door doesn’t open you kick out a window or the cliff beckons.

Our conversation continued down the street, there was so much to catch up on, and neither one of us had a schedule to keep. We went for tea, and then still talking we stood here and there in the hot July sun. I told Terry that I didn’t know where but that I had decided to move by the end of the summer. Without hesitation she said, “Move into my shed.” I’ve got to admit my first reaction was, “What the…?” I thought she was being flippant but one look at her face showed otherwise. She was sincere and she was smiling. “Terry, Terry, what do you mean by that?”

Terry said that years ago when she had needed some space, she’d moved into the shed in her yard. It had helped her. Then the shed became the hang out for her daughters and daughters’ friends to have privacy. I was intrigued and getting excited. “Show me,” I said.

With much apology Terry explained that it was currently full of junk. With her frozen shoulder and the pain she was plagued with she was unable to do anything about it. But if I was willing to clean it out, it could be mine. By this time we had reached her yard and inside I was thrumming and clicking. There stood my future home. And yes, the shed was crammed from floor to ceiling with microwaves, boxes of papers spilling everywhere, old TVs, the assorted flotsam and jetsam of kids that had grown up and left a few things behind. I never felt an ounce of dismay at the work ahead. I knew it was doable. We would make piles, I would do the grunt work. One pile for the kids to come and retrieve, one garbage, one give away.

Over the next few days I contacted Terry by email quite a bit. I told her that I was sure, but if she wanted to change her mind there would be no hard feelings on my part at all. Each and every time she cheerily replied that she did not.

Something happened before we even looked at the shed. There we were still talking, standing in the IGA parking lot, and Terry had just invited me to move on to her property. I was quizzing her on why she would do that. I didn’t know Terry that well, and couldn’t believe that she really meant it. She said she liked the idea of helping me with my plan to go to Texas. (The going rates for living in a shed are really, really affordable.) That day I was wearing my old Chapters’ work pants, and I stuck my hand into the depths of the pocket and felt a little bit of paper. I pulled it out. It was one of the many rotating talismans that I’d carried last winter to keep up my strength. Unfolding the tattered little note I read, “Believe in magic. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to be amazed.” Dazzled, my head reeling I handed it to Terry and said, “Now this is yours.”

We did it. The plan grew. I still thought to myself that if nothing came of this at least I would have helped Terry move some very old energy around. It was okay for Terry to change her mind, but she never did. When I started telling my friends that I was moving…to a shed, I gleefully watched their faces. Yep, horror and dismay. But once they saw the vision (they already knew my plan), how quickly they knew that it was right. The capital S Shed is me. But how they wanted me to change the name. Couldn’t I puleeze call it a cabin? Or romanticize the name just a little? They were squirming and I was not. I proudly announce that I live in a Shed. And it took me a while to get it, I was in my bed one night grinning in the dark, envisioning life in the shed, when I finally really heard the word. I got it. I got it! And started laughing. SHED! I am still shedding! So of course, the Shed is perfect.

The ceiling was pale blue and the walls a sunshine yellow. Though I loathe to paint and it bores me silly, with donations of leftover paint from Eliza and Laurel the Shed’s interior became an austere white and the floor sage green. It was worth the effort. I did not want to feel that I was living in a cast off playroom. The shedding began with furniture dispersed and more and more possessions given away. My books were boxed and sent down the highway for storage at Roslyn’s. Living in the Shed was going to exemplify living simply to an even greater degree. One table, two chairs, one bed. Only one bookcase, space is limited. Music, my eight plants, and only the personal treasures I need to keep close by.

The Shed is 11 feet by 17. Blue curtains hang at five little windows. One door. I have a small kitchen area and pantry with toaster oven, hot plate and mini fridge. There is no running water. I take my water jug across the yard and up the porch steps into the big house where there is a bathroom just inside the back door. The Shed sits under an old fir tree that rises a hundred feet above me. The yard has been left wild and untended. Two sister dogs, Georgia and Lily, plummet out the back door, racing down the steps to chase the plentiful squirrels back up the trees. Five luxuriant cats roam the house and yard, taking turns at my door, waiting to be let in.

In the night when I need water, or the bathroom, I make my way to the house in whatever clothes I throw on to keep warm or dry. On the way back I loiter until the darkness lets me in. It is so quiet and still. A dim light glows warmly behind the curtains in my windows. I look up up up to the sky above, see the moon and stars, sense the trees, feel the rain and wind, and know my connection to all that is. This is where I live. I moved in September 1st, and feel grateful to have found the perfect fit. For now.

Good Life

Saying grace…Jack and Terry and Harvey and Virginia, you are lovely.

One Response to “Shedding”

  1. Terry says:

    Thanks Diane,
    You are lovely too, and the best neighbour I’ve ever had! Yet here you are out there in the shed (it has also been called “The Burrow” and “The Hut!”) and I don’t see enough of you.

    I love it that you are out there in the dark, appreciating the wonders of this planet we share.

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