They’re here. And look, another orange hockey ball from Stevie’s epic practice last fall. I started the clean up yesterday and will work my way up to the fence today. Maybe by tomorrow I’ll be able to open the back gate, frozen, packed with snow for so long and scramble out into the back lane. My back lane is special. It has never been paved. It is wide and fringed with all sorts of wild plantsand a hedge that borders the four-story residence on one side. It came under the eye of the City a couple of years ago and I was afraid they would come in with all sorts of “improvements”. They convened a committee of the residents whose properties bordered the lane and we met to discuss what turned out to be a project called “Les Rouelles Vertes / The Green Lanes”. It was a strange, rather endearing project that involved organizing us into a clean up team in spring and fall and planting indigenous plants up and down the lane. My fears of kitchy benches and too much light in the lane were calmed when I heard that the budget for “materials” was $800. How much damage can you do with that, after all? We had meetings (one in my back yard) and Filomena my next door neighbor immediately rushed in and made espresso for us which she served in styrofoam cups – but on a very ornate tray. She and her neighbor on the other side have been at daggers drawn for years so while Filomena was busy with the coffee left-side neighbor was happy to give input and volunteer for various tasks but when Filomena came back out, she flounced off without a word. The project organizer, a very young and charming girl was quite taken aback. We had to explain to her that the seething life of our back lane was not only centered on plant life. The vendettas of southern Italy and the hot blood of Quebecois sometimes made for stormy moments. Although we only gloried in the attention of a city project for one summer, there are still open-faced wild roses and raspberry canes up and down our lane. Soon, soon, we will enjoy these. Oh, I did see my first geese. I’d heard their calls a couple of times but never caught sight of them. Today, waiting for the bus, I was startled by very loud cries and there right overhead was a tiny flock of confused looking Canada geese. They were flying very low, just a few meters above the trees of the neighborhood and two of them seemed to be leading the way for a pathetic skein of seven other geese. Guy geese, I’ll bet, who absolutely refused to look at a map or consult the GPS. The only water in our neighborhood is the canal which is still pretty frozen over so I hope they get it together. I had the distinct impression they were squawking at me, “OK, satisfied now! We’re here!” Started my day off with a chuckle.