Backyard Nirvana

Day 3 of the #AKwritingChallenge is here! One tenth of the way, for those keeping track.

Today’s assignment is to describe my backyard. If I live in an apartment, I am to describe any backyard that I remember.

do live in an apartment – on the third floor, as a matter of fact. Technically my backyard is shared with many other people. That’s why the other option is on the challenge. I believe I’ll describe more than one, because there are 2-3 that mean a lot to me.

My childhood home had a very large backyard. It seemed as large as a football field when I was a little kid. We had a barn at the back of it, a small one we kept assorted tools and go-karts or dune buggies in. There was a lean-to on the side of it for our hunting dogs. We had beagles when I was growing up. That’s a story for another time – like 1 more week into our challenge.

Next to that barn was a large garden my mother had planted. There was corn, strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, like that. Behind that garden, against the fence my parents erected to keep us contained that had more holes in it than swiss cheese, were blackberry brambles.

My mom would go out and pick berries and make jam. My mother’s jam is superb. I’m so sad I’m down here and can’t get to it. It’s a tradition now, when she makes it, and she’s involving her grandchildren, which is great!

The kids have turned into suburban farmers because of gramma. They grow strawberries and other small things in pots and use them to make their dinner. It’s awesome what can be passed from one generation to the next!

Before I had my heart surgeries at the ages of 1 and 5, I tended towards weak. I would get tired easily, and I’m sure that was a pain in the ass for my rambunctious brother. He always had to wait for me. The backyard was big enough that I had to stop halfway and rest.

My parents had erected a swing set alllllll the way in the back, like some sort of cruel taunt. There were other flat parts of the lawn. Oh man, I’m still a whiner. Anyways. My brother would want to haul ass out there to play and end up having to wait for me.

The grass was thick and often long. Mom didn’t have time to mow and none of us wanted to. Did I mention there were snakes in that yard? It felt amazing on bare feet. That backyard, aside from environmental hazards I won’t go into here, is an ideal backyard for me. Now that I’m older, I don’t mind mowing. It’s very zen.

Second backyard: we’re going back to my awesome grandmother. I swear I’m going to make Sharkie Internet famous.

I mentioned in My Pride that Grams had a backyard pool. She had way more than that. Her backyard has to be more than an acre. If you go all the way to the back, there’s this tiny pond, with a teensy tiny stream that leads back to the Kalamazoo river. So technically, my Grams’ house is connected to pretty much everywhere else in Michigan. It’s neat.

So, she had the pool, and a cool pond with a dangerous dock on it. There was a middle section between the pond and pool that was big enough for baseball games. The *insert family name here* rose bush that has been in the family for 100 years served as home plate.

Because they had the pool and the property size, the majority of the family reunions were held there. I have millions of memories of playing volleyball, kickball, swimming, hanging out under a tent and watching the adults get hammered.

There was the time my Grampa’s sister went down the water slide and had all the other adults sucking teeth. When my brother and cousin decided to dive off of the top of the water slide. When my brother’s buddy broke his thumb trying to spike the volleyball and had to spend the rest of the summer in a cast.

If the reunion times were now, we’d have added a firepit, I think. For socializing, my grandmother’s backyard was the ideal place. Huge to mow though. My gramps used to seat us on the riding mower with him and take us all around. It’s how I sorta learned how to drive.

Grams has blackberry bushes there. Mom and her grandkids go and pick berries together so she can make jam. The visual is Hallmark perfect.

Third and final backyard: My mother bought a place in northeast Michigan. It’s a rambling old house that was originally built as a brewery back in 1856. Yeah, it’s old. They didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing when the place was built and you can tell.

The house is located in what was the original downtown of the city. So it’s a bustling little area. She has a very large backyard for a property lot in that town. It’s fenced in and there are trees surrounding the entire thing. Well aged trees. Sounds and sights are blocked.

She installed a fountain – did I mention she’s handy? – and a hibachi firepit thing so we had burbling water, crackling fires, birds chirping, and all of the other soothing things one can imagine in a backyard. Zen and then some.

I never sat in the backyard with a cup of coffee and just enjoyed the silence. I do that when I go to Baldwin, and first thing in the morning here in Florida. It’s straight to the balcony to feel the morning breeze and sip my life giving fluids. I regret that now, not using that backyard for that purpose. It seems like a waste.

If I had unlimited funds to design a yard when we buy our house, it would be difficult but I have fantastic inspiration. It’d probably end up segmented with paths or something, and we’ll need multiple acres. I don’t think we’re going to find that here in Florida.

Instead I’ll try to keep an open mind as we look at homes, and try to picture where I want to spend my morning hours. One thing I guarantee, it’ll have a pool.


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