Shed Down by the River

Fireplace, JMN, photo. (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.

Fireplace, JMN, photo. (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.

From the street it’s nondescript: long and low, homely brickwork giving way to corrugated metal, no windows. Flat, pedestrian, a second-rate, seedy, industrial-looking structure on a humble side of town.

Patio and doorways are on the opposite side facing inward to a landscaped city block. Walled and fenced. Graveled islands pocked with blooming sage and firebush. You pass through a high brick arch that Arturo Rodriguez built. He and wife Andrea were the first residents of the original cabin that‘s a rectangular ramble now. Andy would dandle my infant son on her jolly lap: “Let me see that fat baby!”

Inside, it’s a crepuscular cocoon, a Bohemian man-cave — rustic opulence, high ceilings, tile floors, monumental fireplace, a skylight over the easel.

A river runs nearby. I call it the Mighty Wadi Loopy.

I was the only foreigner in my class at the University of Barcelona. Three things there impressed me:

(1) Well-off Spaniards lived modestly compared to their U.S. counterparts. Their apartments nestled in old buildings that gave no external hint of luxury. Men wore the same blazer all week long. The Catalan haute bourgeoisie eschewed conspicuous consumption.

I’ll mention (2) and (3) another time.

My shed has a shoddy, disreputable face. You wouldn’t know it harbors a recluse of proud, lower-middle-class rank.

(C) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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