When the rain came crashing down on Christmas afternoon, gate crashing Christmas, we all scurried indoors taking with us the perishables, the things that could not stand a downpour, including the flowers that stood in a line in small bottles in the middle of the table.
We took in the last of the corn bread, the butter the open wine bottles the condiments but left out half empty wine glasses, the water pitchers, serviettes and the rest.
I visited my mother on Christmas day night and drove through more storms, scary in places where I had to slow down to sixty kilometres an hour in otherwise one hundred kilometre zones for fear of what might happen, but I got there, sobolened my mother’s legs and wished her a happy Christmas.
My mother was surprised that I had come thinking the storms would keep me away but I had been determined to get there after our Christmas day visitors, family and friends had gone.
I had done a basic clean up before I left to see my mother but could not get outside to do the outdoor table for the rain. I planned to leave it to the next day. But after I arrived home from my mother’s the rain had stopped, for a while at least, and I took out an empty tray determined to do as much as I could then and there.
I loaded the tray which I had set at one end of the table with glasses, a plate and a bowl, and the left over knives and forks. Before I took the tray inside I began to tip over the outdoor chairs which were filled with puddles and twigs and leaves and the like.
I did not see it coming. The chair closest to the head of the table had supported the tray on which I had placed all the glasses. I whipped it out and watched as the tray turned over and crashed onto the bricks.
It did not have far to fall but the result was spectacular, shattered glass spread over the bricks and into the flower beds nearby.
There was nothing to do for it, no one to whom I might complain. The rest of my tribe were sleeping, collapsed after Christmas festivities or out visiting friends, and so I cleaned it all up then and there. The dust pan soon became mud covered through the cracks between the bricks. Glass splinters everywhere.
It seemed a strange ending to Christmas and as I cleaned I wondered whether at the moment of the crash someone somewhere had died and someone somewhere else had been born. The crash had to mark something I thought. It could not be so random as to mean nothing.
This chook, a Christmas present from one daughter to my husband, looked on unblinking. It is made of metal and did not feel a thing.