today’s post is a bit of a ramble…just a bit of thought-processing on my part. come along, if you like.
this morning, as every morning, i went outside to sit and smoke the first of the five cigarettes i still allow myself per day. and to listen, as i do every morning, to the birdsong that accompanies those first two hours after dawn. i breathe in the already sultry and humid southern air, watch the lizards that inhabit the lattice of grapevine that graces my front porch. they are waiting for breakfast to happen along while pondering their dreams of the night. the upcoming daily thunderstorms are already billowing as they take moisture into the skies. a beautiful peaceful moment.
but something was even more beautiful today. i looked across the street to the front of my neighbor’s yard and see that the three or more month’s of trash that has sat smouldering on their porch, an eyesore, a mountain of bags filled with festering diapers and god-knows-what-else is gone! at last!
my neighborhood isn’t opulent in any sense of the word. a previously middle-class subdivision that time has eroded. some of the homes are small wooden boxes built 30 some odd years ago. some, like my own, are recent erections, more spacious, a bit fancier, with brick facades and new roofs.
mine is built of concrete blocks, with moonstone stucco in textured swirls commissioned by me as one of the first of many acts of thoughtful personalisation that make a house a home.
none of the folk who dwell in this subdivision are wealthy. there are no gardeners, mexican or otherwise, tending to the lawns. no fancy landscaping feats here, but most keep their grass mowed, and many have taken the trouble to put in a small garden here or there, planted a tree or two.
it may be totally untrue, but i’m of the mind that one’s yard says a bit of something about a person. all the little extras; the hanging windchimes, the garden gnome, the banner with a ladybug emblazoned on it waving in the breeze…perhaps reveal something intangible. an insight into the people who live there.
for example, i keep my front yard mowed. their are burgundy loropetalum and chinese privet in a garden whose borders are intentionally curved into a sine wave. lush green vines serve as the screen on the open air porch. spires of aztec grass ascend through the ground cover of creeping jasmine. here and there holly-leafed ferns unfurl their massive fronds. the garden is a study in purposed asymmetry. at once neat yet unkempt. like a hair-do tossed by the wind, tendrils loosened, yet beautiful.
in my backyard, hiding behind the anonymity of a six-foot wooden privacy fence, the grass reaches for the sky waving it’s anxious seed heads in the slightest breeze. the awning covering a love seat yard swing is festooned with bright green lichens, arranged like a floral print. there is a hedge of lantana between the corner of the garage and the swing. and all around the bottom of the fence a barbed-wire of brambles is allowed to grow. twice a year, it yields up a fortune of black raspberries. my backyard is wild, reminiscent of our other home, a little house on twenty-seven acres of mountain in northern mendocino county.
the yard that the world can see reveals through its non-traditional gardening and choices of plant a bit about myself. while the backyard, behind the privacy fence says much about the wilder parts of my being, those things i keep from public view.
i think about my neighbor to the left. their garden is a perfect rectangle, with cute little flowering plants all neatly laid out. there is a symmetry and normalcy to it that is mirrored by who they are. or at least who they seem to be. a young couple, married five years, one child and another on the way…they both work for now, though with the second child, the young mother intends to stay at home. they go to church every sunday. their backyard behind its privacy fence hosts an above ground pool and lots of outdoor children’s toys.
the neighbor to the right of me hasn’t done a garden. they keep the yard trimmed and mowed. it looks perfunctory. matter-of-fact. the husband and wife cars sit side by side in the short driveway, while his work truck is often parked on part of the lawn. a privacy fence allows their dog a safe place to explore. their kids often have to knock at my door to have me retrieve the ball they’ve accidentally thrown into my backyard.
their yard seems to say, “hey, we’re hardworking folk with three kids and not a lot of time”
perhaps i over-simplify.
back to the mountain of garbage, which, tho gone for now, will likely build up again to a similar height before the inhabitants of the small unkempt shack of a house bother to have it toted away. what does it say about the inhabitants of the place?
heaps of trash piled up outside their door in the front yard. on display, or in the face of the world, an assault. a sort of ‘f-you’ to the world. their lawn trash-strewn, the never mowed yard. three unwashed and unwatched, neglected young children run about often in the street. their mother and the six other adults who live there, paying scant attention to the kids except to yell at them, often using obscenities while they do so. none of them with a job to prevent them caring for kids, yard or home. i have even offered to allow them to put trash in my bins, as i don’t come close to filling them between pick up.
best as i can tell, from the examples on my street, their front yard says it all!
here’s what mine says…