As I bent down to cut the last of our marigolds on the Friday before Thanksgiving, I was as happy as I could remember being. The stems of the flowers were cool against my fingers, and their sturdy beauty and acrid scent evoked memories of marigolds hastily picked by my kids and carried off, stems sheathed in wax paper and anchored by elastic bands, to be given to a teacher or abandoned on the playground. It was a morning for remembering, as filled with colour and ancient mystery as a Breugel painting. Above me, skeins of geese zigzagged into alignment against the cobalt sky. The high clear air rang with their cries. A north wind, urgent with change, lifted the branches of our cottonwood tree, shaking the leaves loose and splashing the lawn with gold. Beneath my feet last week’s fallen leaves, bronze and fragile as papyrus, crackled into the cold earth.
For the first time in a long time, there was nowhere I had to be. I was on sabbatical, expanding an article I’d written about the emerging values war in Canada into a book. It was an open-ended project that I found easy to pick up and easier to put down. My three grown children were living independent lives marked by the usual hurdles but filled with promise. They were all strong and sensible people, so I crossed my fingers, enjoyed their company, and prayed that the choices they made would bring them joy. Since my son, Angus, had enrolled in the College of Law in Saskatoon the month before, my younger daughter and I had been alone in our house. We missed Angus, but Taylor was just about to turn eleven, and the world was opening up to her. Listening as she spun the gossamer of unexplored possibilities was a delight neither of us ever wearied of.
Freed from the tyranny of a timetable, I read books I’d been meaning to read, gazed at art with an unhurried eye, listened to music I loved, and revelled in the quiet pleasures of the season Keats celebrated for its mist and mellow fruitfulness.
Best of all, there was a new man. His name was Zachary Shreve and he’d brought with him a piercing happiness I’d forgotten existed. But I had just celebrated a birthday. I was fifty-six and as I walked back into the house, my joy was edged with autumn’s knowledge that nothing gold can stay.
The kitchen phone was ringing. I dropped the marigolds in the sink and picked up, expecting to hear Zack’s voice. For the last eight weeks he’d been putting in twelve-hour days — first on a case involving the death of a homeless man who had the bad luck to seek shelter in a warehouse on the night the warehouse owner set his property on fire, and now on a high-profile case of attempted murder. Zack called often — mostly just to talk but, if we were lucky, to arrange time together. My caller wasn’t the man I loved. It was my old friend, Jill Oziowy, who, after a heady New York experience, had decided to return to the relative sanity of Toronto and her old job as producer of Nationtv’s Canada Tonight
. As always, Jill didn’t waste time on preamble.
“How would you like to go once more into the breach for Nationtv?”
I cradled the phone between my shoulder and ear, picked up the vase on the counter and started filling it with water. “Not a chance,” I said.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from The Endless Knot by Gail Bowen. Copyright © 2006 by Gail Bowen. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.