A Good Neighbour: Sunborrowers and Watering Cans

In 2012, I participated in a local writing contest, held by Good News Toronto, called the True Story Contest. The challenge was to write about A Good Neighbour in 450 words or less.

I wrote about an unknown neighbour of mine who watered (and saved) my toddler’s bean plant this summer and about my parents’ neighbour, Colette, who does the same for my father’s tomato plants.  My piece won second place in the contest and was published online this month.

An excerpt from Sunborrowers and Watering Cans:

Armed with a watering can, Colette makes her way across her neighbours’ lawn and down a small hill to the vegetable patch. She carefully removes the mesh wire fence, which ineffectively keeps rabbits out, and steps in to water the thirsty plants and their cherry-red fruit. Once that job is done, she fills the watering can with the bite-sized tomatoes, ensuring none goes to waste. There are always more when my parents return, as long as Colette waters them.

Later, Colette drags a lawn chair onto my parents’ property for a well-deserved rest. Papa jokes that it’s only fair: in the afternoon, Colette’s place is in shadow, “so we let her borrow our sun!” A little water for a little sun; it’s a pleasant, reciprocal relationship.

Colette blushed when I read her the story, right before it was published online. I could tell she was surprised, yet pleased, about her role in this story. Now, my task is to figure out which of my 600+ neighbours helped along our ‘garden’ this summer and offer my thanks in person.


An Encounter That Changed My Life

Last year, I participated in a local writing contest, held by Good News Toronto, called the True Story Contest. The challenge was to write about An Encounter That Changed Your Life, in 450 words or less.

I wrote about my young friend Sierra, who, barely out of toddlerhood, taught me how to be a better person and inspired me to have a family. My piece won third place in the contest and was published online in December 2011.

Six months later, I happily learned that « Sierra », the prize-winning nonfiction piece, had been printed in the hard copy version of Good News Toronto. How thrilling; not only is there tangible, inked evidence of my story, it’s even illustrated by Toronto artist Rosie Pea.

The best consequence of seeing the story in print, though, is that I was able to share a few copies with Sierra herself, who read it for the first time last week. Her reaction? A pleased smile hidden by an admonishing: « But now everyone‘s going to know me! »

They would be lucky to.

The short nonfiction piece "Sierra" by A.M. Matte

To read "Sierra" online: http://www.goodnewstoronto.ca/2011/12/good-news-toronto-true-story-contest-3rd-place-winner/