Mrs. Modge And Her Hodgepodge Cottage
By Kalen Marquis
Mrs. Modge lived in an old, ramshackle place on the dusty outskirts of town. It was just off the main roadway that led back into town and the many dreamy places that lay beyond.
Mrs. Modge’s place was, as some folks said, “Just a tumble-down old shack,” but there was, (between you, me and the rest of her friends), nothing in the world quite like it!
Mrs. Modge’s place was, from a distance, a run-down looking cottage found just over the dike from the rickety pick-up sticks pump house that slurped and sucked away swelling floodwaters every spring when the river ran high.
When you got up closer, Mrs. Modge’s place was, by all accounts, a very peculiar, sprawling place made up of a hodgepodge of the oddest little bits of ‘this and that and that and this.’
It was made up of old, unneeded scraps of wood, metal, brick, glass, and all kinds of other unidentifiable pieces of ‘this and that and that and this’ which came together to make up her very humble hodgepodge cottage.
Although no one knew for sure (and few would be inclined to check), every hodgepodge piece appeared as if it might be a broken, misshaped odd n’ sod left over from a building site or the remains of some abandoned time-worn building around town.
One might even suppose that Mrs. Modge had, in her younger days, squirrelled them away while on a walk in the very earliest morning rays or, like a lovable, looting pirate at dusk, just as a hot spring or summer day turned to cool, chilled night.
This was not known for sure but what was known was that dear Mrs. Modge had spent most of her many days and nights assembling and reassembling her hodgepodge cottage.
She was kept very busy pulling and squeezing and tightening and pounding all the odd little bits of ‘this and that and that and this’ with nails, screws, rope, chain, binder twine, and just about anything that happened to come her way to keep the sun, rain, snow, sleet and hail from the homey insides of her humble hodgepodge cottage.
To a now aging Mrs. Modge, her hodgepodge cottage was an exquisite palace that she, herself, had built with more pride than money and more loving care than skill or craftsmanship.
As the years wore on, old Mrs.Modge continued to live a happy, contented life in her homemade hodgepodge cottage. She was, of course, a happy, contented spirit who was not at all worried about “the fancy, high-falutin’ ways of the world” and, as she put it, “the titterin’ and tee-heein’ of town folks.”
Mrs. Modge would go gently about her business as young Delphinia Persimmons—just one of a long line of snooty town folks—would drive by in her fancy carriage with her delicate, fashionable nose pointed high in the air.
In fact, Delphinia’s nose was held up so high that Mrs. Modge, (had she been close enough and cared to look), could have seen right up through those delicate, fashionable but still ever-so-snooty—nostrils! Yee-uk!
Instead, Mrs. Modge would just smile to herself, looking kindly up from her hodgepodge handiwork, as she heard the clucking of teeth against tongue as Delphinia made loud, spittle-producing “tsk-tsks” to her horse (but Mrs. Modge knew better than to think so).
Mrs. Modge’s heart, which had broken so easily when she was young and unaware of the harsh judgments that accompany more ‘refined sensibilities,’ had gradually healed and now only filled with love for herself and Delphinia as she clucked by, sighing her ‘high society’ sigh, saying, “Ohhh myyy, there’s poor old Mrs. Modge and her hodgepodge cottage.”
With that, Delphinia, like her ‘high society’ friends, would shake her lightly powdered fact and carry on to the comforts of her home in town.
Unlike more common folks, Delphinia knew better than to leer, jeer and sneer at ‘misfits’ like Mrs. Modge. Instead, she felt polite, eye-dampening pity.
But Mrs. Modge wanted no pity. The last thing she wanted was anyone to feel ‘sorry’ for her!
Watching young Delphinia Persimmons drive off into town, Mrs. Modge looked after her with great warmth in her chest and proud, flashing, but a still serene sparkle in her eye.
She was happy and content, free to live her life in her hodgepodge cottage where she. . .
planted her hodgepodge garden with seeds and tools of ‘this and that and that and this’ . . .
simmered her hodgepodge stew made up of ‘this and that and that and this’ . . .
sewed hodgepodge clothes stitched from scraps of ‘this and that and that and this’. . .
reclined upon comfy, hodgepodge furniture glued and hammered from ‘this and that and that and this’. . .
drank thirst-quenching hodgepodge tea steeped with leaves of ‘this and that and that and this’. . .
and ate luscious, steaming hodgepodge biscuits baked with ‘this and that and that and this.’
The years wore on and Mrs. Modge, true to her homey, hodgepodge nature, was happy and content. Her heart sang and danced and her eyes sparkled. She had everything she could ever want except, perhaps, just one more thing. . .
Maybe, just maybe, she could always enjoy a few more letters and a few more visits from what she called her like-hearted hodgepodge "family of friends." They were family who were like friends and friends who were like family.
Yes! There was nothing like a handwritten letter in the mail or a knock on the door of Mrs. Modge’s hodgepodge cottage. It was such a welcome way to chat and while away the hours, sharing life—all those little bits of ‘this and that and that and this.’
© 1999 Kalen Marquis