a pergola adventure – apr 2011

Editor’s Note: Following is a page from my spiritual notebook.

Only a few cars shared 43rd Street’s four-lanes as I rolled north. The sun warmed my car and I buzzed down my driver’s window. As it lowered, I glanced out. Through houses and tall trees, I glimpsed the white overhead-ladder-looking top of a pergola. Wow! There’s one.

I squinted at a street sign on that side, but could not read the white-on-green letters. Suddenly traffic required attention. Darn! I’ll have to come back later and look for it.

I wanted a pergola built in front of the sun-baked end of our house. I’d plant fast-growing vines at both ends. Once covered in greenery, its slatted top would act like an awning to keep heat out.

However, before I began a contractor search, I wanted to question someone who actually had a pergola: Does it really work as a sun shade? Is it actually more of an outdoor decoration?

Several days later I again drove 43rd Street and was near where I’d seen the pergola. This time I rolled south on the side of the road where I’d seen the structure. Gates were open on two small communities. It must be in one of these. Craning my neck, I rolled slowly around each circular drive, but I saw no tall white barred structure. How odd! I know I saw one near here.

It was another week before I was back on 43rd Street, searching. The pergola just has to be in one of the gated developments. I signaled to turn into the first community, and suddenly I spied it. HA! It’s behind the house. No wonder I missed it.

I turned into that driveway and stopped behind a large white van parked in front of a closed garage. Large vehicle. The owner must have a big hobby. I walked up the cement drive into the backyard where the tall square pergola stood over a deck. Voices came from inside the garage. Its side door stood open, so I went over and peered in. Backs to me, three people were putting up a length of sheetrock.

I called, “Hello?”

A woman helping two others put up a sheet of plasterboard, turned her head and said, “Hi!”

A younger lady stood on a ladder holding the sheet’s corner while a man pounded anchoring nails. When he stopped hammering, all three turned to me, a kind of question on their faces.

I explained. “You don’t know me. I was driving by and saw the pergola.”

No one spoke, so I gestured to the structure that stood outside in the yard and asked, “Does it shade the deck well?”

“You’ll have to ask the owner,” said the woman who had been holding the center. “We are just working here. And, you’re wrong. I do know you.”

“You do?” I studied her. Does she go to my church? Perhaps she sits in Twelve Step Meetings with me? Maybe she lives in my neighborhood? I couldn’t place her and shook my head slightly.

The woman went on. “I met you at the dentist.”

Dentist? I must have looked blank because she added, “The one there on Tower Road.”

I nodded slowly. That’s where my dentist’s office is. I know Janie and Julie, the girls who work the desk. I know my hygienist… I made no connection to this woman.

She said, “It was about a month ago. You and I were both at the long reception desk. You were checking out for your husband and talking to Janie. I was making an appointment with Julie. You had been talking to both girls. That sounds right. JK recently had several dental visits.

“I was there with my husband, too. We exchanged comments.”

I was probably wearing my “Friends” jacket covered with signatures. Maybe that’s how she remembered me. I glanced down to see if I was wearing the fancy jacket, but saw my red windbreaker. She didn’t know me because I was wearing the jacket…

The woman seemed to read my mind. “You were wearing your autograph jacket that day.”

“Uh-huh!” Though it didn’t explain how she knew me today, in a stranger’s backyard and not wearing the jacket, I smiled. “I like getting signatures. Did you sign it?”

“No, but Julie at the desk had just signed her name.”

“Oh! I remember. Next time I’m wearing it and we meet, you’ll have to add your name!” I paused. “About the pergola…”

“Right!” The woman pointed to the house. “It’s not mine, but I’ll introduce you to the owner.”

Not her house?

“I’m just doing some work here with my crew. That’s my truck,” she added, pointing to the white vehicle as we passed the driveway.

We stood together on the back stoop as she knocked on the door. Soon a dark-haired woman peered out the door’s window then opened her back door.

My companion spoke, “Erin, this is…?” She looked as me.

“Frances.” I smiled at the owner.

“She stopped by to ask about your pergola.”

The met-at-the-dentist-lady turned back to her garage work while I discussed the slatted shade-producing structure with Erin.

Before leaving, I stuck my head in the garage again to thank the dentist-lady for her help. She left the other two workers and walked with me to my car.

We stopped near the driveway and she handed me her business card. It read:

S and K Enterprises

Repairs, Remodeling, Installation

“My name’s Joanne. If you decide to put up a pergola, give me a call.”

“OK. Thanks.” I turned and got into my car. Stunned by the enormity of the coincidence I sat and stared at her card.

I was “led” here. I had wanted personal words about a pergola. Suddenly I had not only those, but also a contractor’s offer to put one up. Wow!

I still don’t understand how Joanne recognized me from the dentist’s office. Though that part remains a mystery, The Universe surely blessed me.

Frances Fritzie

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