KAIA KATER
THE HOUSE WITH THE LONG DRIVEWAY, MONTREAL, CANADA

There is a red picnic table in front of the house in the farmlands of Montreal. It is not just painted any red, but a dark, red colour. The table has started to peel after yet another harsh winter. The small pieces of paint come off quite easily.

The house is behind her. It is a large brick house, two-and-a-half stories high with a wood shop attached to the side where her grandfather would build instruments. When they bought the house it was very plain and without electricity, but her grandparents rewired the entire building and added different extensions. Now it has a loft that was not there to begin with.

There is a large maple tree on the front of the house. There is also an oak tree and then the picnic table that is right next to a stone oven that smells of roasted lamb. She looks to the horizon. There is a long, long driveway up to the house and whenever someone comes the dogs will start to bark. They always do that. Next to the driveway there is a wide field that will soon be full of golden wheat straws waving in the wind.

And then there is the Virgin Mary. Half way up the driveway there is a two-feet tall stone carving of Virgin Mary, and she does not really know the story behind it. It has always been there and she has never asked why. Mary just stands there in the rain, under rays of sun and flakes of snow. At a distance it looks a bit like a tombstone, but once you get closer, you will see the figure shrouded in a small stone dome.
Tonight will be another starry night. She knows where the sun sets and how the sky will turn into a black, glittering blanket. She looks at the fields that run into the small coniferous forest and beyond this first forest there are more fields, then forest and then fields that are also blocked off by walls of pinetrees. They must have planted the forest to separate the properties and create natural fencing. That is what she thinks.

When summer comes they will repaint the picnic table. They do that every year, and this continuum of making something new of something old is in the very roots of her being. Her father immigrated from Grenada and together with her Quebecoise mother they started a new life in Canada. Perhaps this is the very essence of Canada; this old, new country, a place of strife and conflict, but also a place of rebirth. It is possible to rewire an old house, and to repaint a picnic table year after year. She feels like the new definition of a Canadian. And she has always felt rooted in new beginnings.

Reliefs in oak wood: Artist Søren Assenholt
Prose and concept: Author Sanne Flyvbjerg