Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Backyard Stories

Little by little I work on taming this big backyard of mine.  It is a huge chore, and I often wonder what I could do to make it easier.  Last summer I looked into the idea of hiring a herd of goats to come eat down ivy, but it was beyond my budget.  So, no cute goat solution.  Sometimes I imagine owning a couple of goats, just to have them on hand, but I don't know anything about raising goats, and the kind I want (tiny ones) would need a dog to guard them from our occasional predators (coyotes and maybe hawks?).
Anyway, for now the solution is the lawn mower, which punishes the machine because the terrain is full of rocks and decaying logs.

The wild part of the yard

When the children were small, they used to naturally keep all the ivy down. Fallen sticks became swords or huts, and pinecones got loaded up into wagons and hoarded as ammunition.

We also used to have a lot of outdoor parties in the fall and winter.  Under the existing clumps of ivy is the site of our old fire pit. I found the remains of burned wood today, though I've long ago removed all the granite stones that rimmed the fire ring to use as a decorative boarder in the more organized, less natural part of the yard. A few of the almost entirely decayed old stumps people used to sit on by the fire are gradually crumbling back into the earth under the ivy.
Neighbors and friends used to come with food and sing and swap stories and kids roasted hotdogs and marshmallows and ran all over the place.  I remember one party where there were about twenty or more kids armed with glowing light sabers engaged in battle on the more lawny part of the yard away from the fire.
My oldest son celebrated his off therapy party with a backyard cook-out.  A young guest accidentally smacked him in the face with a flaming marshmallow!  So terrible!  It was impossible to see what was black burned marshmallow and what was burnt skin.  I phoned the doctor immediately.  All turned out okay.  The party even continued.  But, what a shock!

Now, I don't have any kids running around, and the dog is kind of old for chasing squirrels.  So, it's up to me to go out and pull down ivy that runs up the trees year after year.  And deal with the cut down bamboo my son and husband got a little over zealous in felling (they enthusiastically to cut down the stalks, but then just left them lying there).  What to do with this bamboo? 

Older neighbors (who have passed on now) used to tell me about Mr. Childs, who owned this house long before I did, and how beautiful he kept this backyard. Indeed, bits of his work still exist, but I am sad to say I am no Mr. Childs.

This morning, I cleared and cut and pulled ivy and dead limbs.  The rabbits ran around for a bit until it got too hot for them and they hid.  Have I got a guard dog here, or the big bad wolf?  More big bad wolf I'd say, but hawks looking down might think otherwise.

Of course, I wasn't the only one out working this morning.


  1. I wonder...have you ever contacted Zoo Atlanta about your bamboo? They need it for the pandas. They used to go to properties and cut it down for free, maybe you could give them a call and see if this is still true?
    Now, if only someone would come and help you out with the ivy! :-)

  2. I love it when you write about your neighbourhood, past and present. That yard is full of happy ghosts, isn't it? (One of them slightly singed.)

    When I saw the bamboo photo I thought it was perhaps some clever way of taming or training the ivy. Then I read the text. :)

    Good luck with the yard work!

  3. Wow, your back garden is really big, and really wild. It must be such a job keeping on top of all that growth. But it must have been the most magical playground for your boys, with all that running around with sticks and playing in the undergrowth. I bet they have fond memories of that garden.