Seabreeze burned down last week.
Seabreeze is the summer resort on the island where my grandmother lives. Seabreeze is where my mother worked as a teenager and I was raised on a diet of stories about escapades there like how Auntie Ev made the best brownies and my mum dropped a gallon of milk in the kitchen and they ate four trays of jello by accident and they would finish work and jump right into the sea because unlike most places named Seabreeze, Seabreeze was on the sea, and it was breezy there.
Seabreeze was on Grassy Point, which was a point, and it was grassy there.
Seabreeze had pretty terrible food by the time we were old enough to want to go. So we didn’t, so we didn’t. And then it burned down.
Our biffy is built with wood from the Baileys’ barn.
Our biffy is what normal people call an outhouse. There is a reason for this that is not a reason. Biffy is short for bivouac and bivouac is the fancy British military term for a resting place. Many people have rested in our biffy, but not permanently.
There is a sign inside that reads, “A Guide for a Baker Better Biffy!” Advice includes the notice of a bucket of peat moss and concerns about usage of toilet paper.
The biffy is built with wood from the Baileys’ barn.
The Baileys’ barn was next to my mother’s childhood home.
I remember Mrs. Bailey. She smelled like old people and musty, yellow cardigans and the cool linoleum on a hot day. The wood is from their barn that fell down. Twentyfive years ago, we drove flapping pieces of plywood for six hours across three islands, and then we dug the hole and erected a house around it and put in a toilet seat, and then we rested.
That is how our biffy was made.
We have many mugs. They are all made by potters.
Some of them wear long flowing garments with sequins. Others wear jeans with holes and have clay smeared on their faces and up to their elbows. Some of their pottery is not that great. It is sometimes clumpy or badly glazed or lopsided.
But some of them are world famous. One especially for his adoption of raku glazing, a Japanese wood firing using salt to dapple his glaze, and golden and crystal sweeps of the brush and the deepest blues and greens and blacks.
These mugs are expensive, and every one is as rich and precious as a ripe blackberry that we reach through the thorny bushes to pluck, away from the sun’s adoration, for our own.
We use them tenderly, choosing our vessel from the vast array every time. And one day, one will knock against the table just a little too hard or jitter too close to the edge of the wood stove, and it will fall onto the floor and it will break into puzzle pieces that will never fit back together.
And we will cry as though we have lost a piece of ourselves; we will hold the luminous shards in our hands and try to hold them back in place as though they are jewels. As though they are no less sweet and tart as they were when we laboured to choose them from the brambles.
As though they were never going to rot.