Canadians of a ” Certain Age ” will remember painting the back porch. It was in the days before plastic or aluminium siding with built-in colour and finish. The back porch was made of wood and eventually the seasons took their toll of the surface. You put it off as long as you could, but – like resurfacing the frost-heaved driveway – eventually you had to give in and waste a summer week.
It was a week, too – because you had to scrape the old finish off to some extent before covering it with the new. Like painting a ship – rust knocking first. After you finished and the yard looked like three varieties of hell, it came time to get the paint.
No Canadian worth their salt ever went to the hardware store and bought new paint. It just wasn’t done, eh?
You went into the garage and got all the old tins of paint that had been used to do other jobs around the place and tipped them into the biggest can. This was mixed with a big stick or a screwdriver chucked into an electric drill and the result thinned with something that may well have been turpentine originally. Then out with the brushes ( two sizes; too big and too small…) and up on apple crate scaffolding to start the painting.
Three days and two falls later it was done. And one could put the remains of the porch paint back into the big can in the garage. And this is where the Canadian Miracle occurred. We never knew how and no scientist could ever explain it, but when the Canadian porch was painted:
a. No-one ever remembered buying paint…ever. Where the half-full tins came from was a mystery. Paint faeries were mooted but we were too old for that sort of thing.
b. It was either salmon pink or medium grey. That is the only two colours you can make when you mix leftovers – no matter what you started with.
c. There was more paint after you finished than when you started.
d. The brushes were always carefully saved for the next time. Not cleaned, mind – just saved. Rigid, misshapen, disgusting, but saved. We were frugal, eh?