Friday, August 2, 2013

Sitting in Backyards

I spent the afternoon in Little Cuter's backyard.  Their deck chairs are exactly as they should be - waterproof, classy, and comfortable.  Though the pillows are boring, they are fine for now.  Next year, when they are looking sad after 365 days of sunshine, she can replace the covers with something more fun. I don't know why she'd bother, though.  The rest of the yard more than makes up for these plain, brown, wrappers.

My girl was never one for gardening.  Then, she became a homeowner.  Now, she barely waits to change her clothes before she and SIR are out in the yard, watering, pruning, tending, cleaning.  I watched the mourning dove poop on the ledge; she came home and wiped it off.  Is this the same human who quailed at the thought of bird droppings on the deck in California? Apparently, paying the mortgage causes a profound change in attitude. If I'd only known that when she was a child, I'd have had her contribute just to get her to love the yard.

Loving the yard is something that comes easily for me.  G'ma and Daddooooo shared a backyard with his brother next door; we had no fence between the houses.  Kids ran freely from Uncle's rhubarb to G'ma's snowball bushes. Our yard was the one where all the neighborhood kids congregated.  We played Association (Daddooooo's faux-soccer invention) and whiffle ball and tag and hide and seek, using the tree as home base/plate.

The swings were in the corner - three singles and a push-me-pull-you at the end. There was a sandbox there too, for a while.  I think G'ma got tired of kids with grainy underwear well before we were ready to give it up.

Our dinnertimes were constantly interrupted by gently tapping on the back door.  "Can we play here til you're done?"  I've never felt more popular.

There was always something to do in the yard.  Daddooooo rigged up a long handled pruner with which he would remove the squirrels' nests.  They would dive bomb G'ma's bird feeders from above.  It wasn't the food thievery which bothered him. It was the wastefulness of the seeds strewn on the ground.  If he was going to put them into the feeder, they were going to stay there.

I had a blueberry bush of my very own, in the middle of the garden.  We covered it with cheesecloth.  We put up chicken wire.  We spread foul smelling potions around the roots.  Nothing helped. The birds and the beasts ate every single berry.  I never tasted one.

We had better luck with the strawberries.  They were the border of the back corner garden, and the covering seemed to work for them.  They were small and sweet and never lasted long enough to make it to the dinner table for dessert.  The tastiest berries were hidden well under the foliage; it was fun to forage.

Daddooooo built a grown-up swing once we were adults. There were pillows stored in the shed, and I can bring back their slightly musty odor without any effort at all.  I'd head out to the yard with a book or the NYTimes, prop the pillow on one armrest, my feet on the other, and promptly fall asleep.  I don't believe that I ever read more than a page at a time.  The birds, the breeze, the blue sky through the tree's leaves.... it defined soporific.

Accompanying us on house-hunting trips, my parents would judge a prospective residence by the viability of its backyard for a wedding. "This would be beautiful...." seemed far away when the Cuters were seven and nine; last summer, my own house was exactly that  beautiful for Little Cuter and SIR. When I reminded G'ma of those trips and comments her reply was quintessentially her: "And what else should you use it for?"

Well, let's see, Mommy.  SIR has his "throwing the ball with his kids" lanes scoped out in his head. Little Cuter is looking forward to the raised bed for veggies he'll build for her in the grassless far corner. Thomas, the Wonder Dog, finds the bunnies and squirrels and gnats infinitely amusing. And I, I enjoy sitting on the furniture, cocktail in hand, watching the clouds.

Some things never get old.

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