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Letter From America: Jimmy’s Magic Patch

...The conservatory was a portal into a world that most of us would never see, but of which we ceased not to dream, so close to paradise it seemed. It was a good place in which to seek for escape from the staggering cost of war, the burden of austerity, the pain of abandoned hope, or the agony of love lost either to fickle caprice or to the insouciant blows of death...

The ambrosial scent of a flowers growing against a wall in Arizona carries Ronnie Bray back to his boyhood in a Yorkshire mill town.

One of the comic strips I enjoyed as a lad working my way into great literature was "Jimmy’s Magic Patch." The premise of the action was that the lad’s mother had patched the seat of his short britches with a piece of magic carpet, and that whenever Jimmy made a wish the patch would take him back in time where he inevitably averted a catastrophe of cosmic proportions and saved the day by changing the course of history.

Jimmy’s ‘whoosh’ backwards was immediate, following a voiced but careless longing on his part, and lasted long enough for him to do what needed doing, and then, the task completed, he was transported back to his own time in another ‘whoosh,’ often landing in the midst of trouble for his neglect of some mundane house task that was rated ‘critical’ by his mother.

I was reminded of Patch today when I had a ‘Jimmy’s Magic Patch’ experience that was as pleasing as it was unexpected.

After enjoying as much of the sun as I could stand at the dog park this morning, I drove my lasses home by way of our favourite greengrocer’s shop to pick up some fruit and vegetables so we can continue benefiting from our amazing diet.

After parking in their car park, I opened all the windows, including the moon roof and rear window to ensure that the rig did not overheat and cause distress to my furry kin, and then, after tearful farewells all round, grabbed a shopping trolley and went inside.

Knowing where everything is saves a lot of time, so after grabbing ten pounds of navel oranges, three pounds of seedless sweet grapes, a couple of ounces of mushrooms, a bunch of small bananas, a few pounds of pears, a pack of firm Tofu, a bunch of radishes, some red and yellow onions, and a bag of mung bean sprouts, I was done, checked, checked out, and back into the early morning’s seventy degrees sunshine.

Putting shopping into the SUV is usually delayed, because Belle goes into sniffer-dog mode and has to personally inspect and approve everything that goes in. But, once that was done, I returned the trolley and turned back to the rig to head for home with my beloved tail-waggers.

As I walked back I was impressed by a wall covered with greenery and tiny four-petalled flowers. I risked getting an insect or three stuck up my nasal passages, but as I live dangerously anyway I moved in close to the blooms and inhaled deeply.

Like Jimmy’s Magic Patch, the effects were instantaneous. The ambrosial scent reminded me of a white flowered shrub back in the day when I ranged through the alien heat of the great glass house in Greenhead Park, known locally as ‘The Conservatory’, that sported so many exotic flora that it seemed like another world.

The scent whisked me back to Huddersfield, where I was again a child, carried back to that place of sweet smelling and comforting humidity. Again I heard and saw its gurgling fountain in the middle of a goldfish pond whose ornate denizens were as alien to the sticklebacks in the duck pond as were the wondrous plants in the conservatory to the work-a-day blooms in the gardens of those few who took pains to cultivate native cultivars.

The conservatory was a portal into a world that most of us would never see, but of which we ceased not to dream, so close to paradise it seemed. It was a good place in which to seek for escape from the staggering cost of war, the burden of austerity, the pain of abandoned hope, or the agony of love lost either to fickle caprice or to the insouciant blows of death.

Its peaceful beauty surprised those who then dwelt under threat of imminent death were persistent reminders that we were a people at war in the grimy industrial landscape of Yorkshire’s West Riding, was a veritable oasis of joy, when joy and enchantment were never more wanting and needed.

The Conservatory stood proud and defiant, serving as the purveyor of solace to wounded souls, granted space and time to heal those grown weary of war, provided a quiet haven for meditation for any who needed to gather the pieces of their broken lives and rebuild their broken dreams, and let those whose quiet despair drove them to contemplate rash actions.

Perhaps it is not remarkable that a place that was so significant more than sixty years ago, had slipped so far down in the wells of memory as to become a never-visited site that lay buried under heaps of the debris of my life. Perhaps it is interred because I now have less need of such a place, even of its memory, in these halcyon days where there is little to hurt or make afraid.

Yet it is remarkable that the power still exists to transport us enraptured to places once familiar, but now far distant, whether by a scrap of magic carpet, or by a whiff of the perfume of blossoms clinging to a wall in the arid desert of Arizona. Unexpected bliss is not dead – I had some this morning!


Copyright © 2008 – Ronnie Bray

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Ronnie's Stories:

http://www.2theheart.com/author_ronnie_bray
http://www.meridianmagazine.com/voices/011024summer.html
http://bonzer.virage.net/?s=bray

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