As I sit in my backyard, I feel like I need to whisper, be quiet, behave. If I can’t relax in my backyard, then where?
I feel naked, exposed, like someone is listening in and I’m in trouble. Is this the new normal? If all my files and phone conversations are filed away in a secret, locked file, must my neighbors be privy to my secrets as well? No, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, in case you wondered.
Take a look. What was once lush, thriving wisteria…see here:
Now, it’s this:
If that picture doesn’t sadden you, then this one surely will:
This is all that’s left…
I knew this was coming, although it was not mentioned. So, one day, I looked up, and our fanatical wisteria vine was no more. Our neighborhood is at the twenty-five year mark, which means all manners of improvement are flourishing…roofs fixed, dead trees chopped, ailing retaining walls replaced. That last one pertains to us.
The retaining wall needs to be replaced. It’s in a sad state. Interestingly enough, our neighbors down the way are also replacing their wall and have decided to include a gate that will join their backyards. Oh, if that isn’t neighborly love. Sadly, this does not apply to our neighborly relations.
Let’s just say that I now understand the value of acreage, the possibility of running free through the flowery fields, with a babbling brook, maybe a few sheep, free of cars and sidewalks.
You could think of the suburban landscape in this fashion. Smash all the fences, and you would have one big sprawl of pools, patio furniture, BBQs, bushes, and gardens….like a lush field of green. Okay, that didn’t work, did it?
As a kid, I don’t recall the fences even though, indeed, they were there.
When I was growing up, we had a neighbor who spied our lemon tree sagging with delicious, juicy lemons. Well, what else could he do but hop the fence and partake of these lemons? Many of them were going to waste rotting on the ground. He visited our tree a few times, and then one day, we showed up on his doorstep with bags of lemons, and told him that he could have more whenever he wanted. I believe he did come to our door with a lemon request, but he also continued to hop the fence as this was just easier for him. We didn’t care either way.
Even though our neighbor had his share of lemons, we still managed to have the lemon fight of the century. It was an impromptu sleepover with at least twenty of us camped out in the backyard, a boys versus girls scenario. My brothers had lots of friends. Have you ever had a lemon thrown at your head? I can assure you, it hurts. It also leaves an unrivaled sticky mess. I’m sure if we poured sugar on our heads and jumped in the pool we would have had lemonade. The fences were not enough to keep the noise down, and my mom angrily called us all inside in the wee hours of the morning.
This paled in comparison to my brothers jumping off the slide buck naked into the shallow end of the pool, not safe by any means. This proved too much for the neighbors, and they called the cops. Of course, this only encouraged my brothers to stand longer at the top of the slide flashing themselves, making more noise, and turning the pool light on. In time, the neighbors attached a green, plastic panel to the top of our joined fence so they wouldn’t see their naked bodies. Oh, good times.
A fence, it can be invisible to some and not high enough to others, but in the end, it’s still there. And so, our new fence will be a prettier, sturdier one, and we will continue with our merry lives, and pretend that our backyard is an expansive landscape. Or not. Perhaps, I will simply share a glass of wine with my neighbor before the new fence goes up. Perhaps, it’s time.