Tuesday, July 10, 2007

#59: Go Places

I think I've reminisced once or twice before about my youth. This time it will be different!

My Backyard: a descriptive essay by ViolaSaint

From age since-I-can-remember to age almost nine, we lived in a blue and red house in Southern California. The backyard of that house was amazing, with a garden, a swingset with the steepest slide imaginable, and a pepper tree. Oh, also the grounding wires for the power line ended up in our yard. And a big pile of peppers and leaves and other random tree litter. When it rained, the porch would flood, and when it was dry enough my sister and I would spend the afternoon making mudmen (think tiny snowmen without the snow) and setting them on the brick wall to dry. My mother has multiple photos of my sister pushing me on the swing in the swingset, I guess that was either a favorite pastime or she just liked the way pictures like that looked. The January (?) before we moved, there was an earthquake that gave both my sister and I post-traumatic stress issues, and I remember during the weeks afterward we cleaned the house. One of my duties was sorting the stuff from the game closet, and I recall sitting outside in the backyard, sorting monopoly money while watching the dust billow around the mountains during an aftershock.

From age nine-ish to age, uh, 20, my backyard had a pool. A pool with a waterfall and a rock in the middle where we stood and pretended to be the Karate Kid. For a certain number of years the backyard was where our dog Jack lived, and we had to spend every Saturday walking around the side yard, picking up his droppings and being disgusted. We tried to do a garden in this backyard, but were largely unsuccessful. We grew a few things, but it proved impossible to keep the dog and the rabbits and the quail out of stuff, so most plants never got a chance to live before they were destroyed. For much of my youth in this house, the backyard was less a place to play than it was a portal to the wash behind our house. Stand on the waterfall and climb over the fence and you were into a wild, parentless territory where you could explore and make forts and hope they weren't discovered and messed up by the neighborhood boys. We found an old discarded christmas tree down there once, and set it up with flowers and other plants as decoration.

The year I was twenty, my backyard wasn't a backyard. Living in the dorms, when I looked out my bedroom window I saw a driveway where the snow accumulated, and beyond that, the gym. During the winter I would stare across at the people running on the track, and during the spring I watched the teenage boys practicing their mad skateboard skillz on the walkway beneath. Don't worry- I didn't spend all my time staring out the window. I spent my fair share of time actually in the gym (about an hour every weekday) as well as in class and walking around the lake that was on the other side of the dorms.

My current backyard was so full of promise when we moved in a year ago, and has been horribly underused. It is very large, with a clothesline, a tree and these big sheets of rusty corrugated metal put up like a strange privacy screen. There's a little patch of brick that has a fun L-shaped bench around it, and the yard would be so perfect for backyard camping and barbeques and beach parties without the beach. However, in the Fall this nasty grass grew in it, grew a foot tall, two feet tall, three feet tall! And then in the winter this three-foot-tall grass died and we've had three foot tall hay in our yard since then. We could have and should have ripped it out or mowed it or something so we could use the yard, but we didn't. Our landlord was apprised of the situation finally, and has hired somebody to do something about it, but this somebody came about a month ago and chopped it all down and raked it into piles and decided that it'd be too hard to take the piles away, so I guess his job is done. No progress has been made back there in the past three weeks, except for this one evening when a friend and I felt like doing somthing useful and bagged up three of the piles. We're moving again in a few weeks, and our window of opportunity with this yard has all but closed. Unless the magic yard fairy comes and blinks away the hay tonight, there is very little chance of our ever having that barbeque of our dreams.

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