Friday, August 24, 2012

Reflecting on a Back Yard

I woke up this morning to let the dog out, and was so surprised as I opened the door, by the chill. It was punctuated by steam rising off the water in the pool, signaling that the water was warmer than the air. Fall truly is just around the corner.

As I was waiting for Sadie it struck me how much I love my back yard. And how much the back yard has changed in 16 years.

When we were looking for a house in Pennsylvania one of the mandatory requirements was to have a substantial area for the kids to play in. I wasn’t about to leave the great backyard we had in CT, complete with “Dragon Fly City” (really a swamp), a stonewall, and a huge area to run and horse around in, that not only my kids, but the entire neighborhood loved, and end up in some patch.

The realtor brought us here and we immediately loved the yard. It was equal in size to our CT yard, but no swamp. Instead there was a pool in the front portion and an enormous yard that connected with all the other yards. It looked super kid-friendly.

So blah, blah, blah, we bought the house and moved to PA. But the next summer when I really looked at the fenced-in pool area I was a little dismayed, daunted by it, even. There was an enormous square of brown earth—40 feet long by 10 feet deep. Big. Brown. Empty. Dirt. What the heck did I get myself into?

First I decided to shrink the dirt down to a more reasonable size. I figured out how much of a garden I really wanted. Then we went to Home Depot and bought sod and covered all the parts that we didn’t want. It was lousy grass, definitely not the kind you want to roll down, but it was green and made the newly smaller garden area more approachable.

The neighbor behind us said we could dig up some of her plants to add to the dirt patch. So I dug some tall grasses, a few hostas, and a flox bush. And while it looked a little anorexic that first official summer, by the next year it looked pretty darn good, considering.

Each year I added something new; took out stuff that didn’t work, put in a gargoyle here, a birdbath there, plunked in another birdhouse, and another neighbor gave me a really cool scraggly white pine. Some additions lasted, some endured a few winters and then were headed to the dump. One year I was uninspired and never weeded—thought I’d let Mother Nature take over for a while. And just like the natural look of unshaven legs, it wasn’t the look for me.

This year we had a new fence installed, one that extended farther into the back yard by 20 feet. It’s a split rail—I have to admit, I was afraid of losing my privacy by getting rid of the wall style fence—but I just love how spacious and green it is! With the extension I’ve got a cute sitting area, two small raised beds, and a shaded area for the beloved hammock. (Side note: Two years ago we dropped a maple that we loved to sleep under on the hammock. After we cut it down, we never used the hammock because it felt like we were being blinded and burned in the desert!)

So the garden has once again been transformed, resulting in a peninsula with one side open for the tractor to go through, and now poor Andy doesn’t have to use the push mower in the pool area. Yay!

It’s good to think of all the things that have been accomplished over the years, reminiscing about how things once looked and recognizing the improvements that were made.

 Once again I’m feeling inspired with new ideas swirling around my head. I want to move a flox, add a stone path, and best of all, I have another lovely friend who has offered me more plants!

Life is good!