I love our backyard. We are renting this house, so technically it’s not our backyard, but I still love it. It has lots of fruit trees, a large garden plot, a tree house, swings, a slide, and ample room for our eye sore of a trampoline. After dinner the sun hits the front of the house just right and the entire lawn is shaded. Ah, it’s a regular garden of Eden at sunset.
But of course, as all of you who enjoy a large yard already know, a big backyard mean big backbreaking maintenance. There’s the lawn, that’s a given. Then there are three types of weeds: in the lawn, the prickly kind that show no mercy to tender bare feet. The weeds in the garden that threaten to put a choke hold our future jack-o-lanterns. And then we have weeds that have grown so large, I’m not even sure if they’re weeds anymore. (They’ve flowered and look kinda pretty.)
And I haven’t even gotten to the kids’ favorite part of yard maintenance: The Fruit. Not the “make jam and fruit leather with mom” fruit. I’m talking about the rotten, bug infested fruit splattered on our lawn by our own overgrown, deciduous Jackson Pollock wannabees.
You see, all that fun having a tree house hidden way up yonder in the leafy boughs of an ancient apricot tree has it’s price. A steep, sticky, splatty price. Not only is picking up grocery bags full of foul fruit a summertime Saturday chore around here, but Mom and Dad also choose to use it as penance for bad behavior! Oh, do their whip crackin’ ways know no end!?
But now we’re hooked. We need a big backyard. The other day we saw a beautiful large home for sale in a great neighborhood. We were curious, so we took a flyer and snooped around the driveway a bit. But when we peeked our heads over the side fence and saw their postage stamp of a backyard, the spell was broken. Not the right house for us.
There is something to be said for yard to work in. Right know our kids are small so the more arduous chores fall to us (which is probably why we exploit the picking up of the rancid fruit so much: it’s just at their level.) But they will get bigger, and as a seasoned mother of seven boys once told me, “boys need wood to chop.”
Besides the cool manicured grass and the work ethic we hope to instill, there are other benefits to all that dirt as well. Like all that homemade apricot jam, the fresh apples pies and all the pears they can stuff into their mouths in the fall. Our dinner salad tonight was straight out of the garden. And before this summer, they had no idea just how tall sunflowers got. (“They’re even bigger than Dad!”)
Last Friday night, after diligently obeying their task masters and picking up two heavy bags of fruit, all in various stages of decay, the kids helped us ready two tents back there: one for them and their cousins, and one for me and Paul. After dinner and roasted marshmallows, we strung out an extension cord and put a small TV in front of the kids’ tent so we could watch Tom & Jerry shorts and giggle until midnight. Somehow nights are a lot more fun in a big red tent in a big backyard under a big blanket of stars.
Well, it was fun until Luke wet his sleeping bag.