Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Lucky gopher.

Spruce Up Your Garden in Three Easy Steps is what the magazine announced on its cover.  But, I didn’t bother to open it up to read the article or find out what the steps were. Instead, I just opened up the back door to my yard, held my breath and closed my eyes.  Yup, they were right. Just three easy steps and in my mind’s eye the blighted landscape that is behind my house was all spruced up.  There was a well-known ad campaign in the 1970’s that told us almost every hour on the hour that “there’s no fooling Mother Nature.”  I believed them then and I believe them now, so much so that I’m not going to go out there and even try to pretend to make it all better – she’ll know I’m only foolin’.


In all honesty, I’d like a lovely green patch of land for repose, which is what I imagine I’d be doing if I had a lovely green patch out there.  But no, looking out the window I know that it’s ix-nay on the ee-ray-ose-pay.  Mostly, because I live in the sun-scorched canyons of Southern California where all indigenous things are baked to a golden tan or brown, unless you opt for denial and make some evil back-room bargain with the guy at Home Depot to somehow coax green things out of the parched ground (which is how I imagine these things happen out here).


My front yard fares pretty well in the green arena, because we planted trees when we first moved in sixteen years ago — no trees meant no birds and no birds meant there would be no incidental music outside and well, I just couldn’t stand the idea of that.  Trees were the first item of business after making sure the bathrooms had toilet paper and the fridge had iced tea.  [My To Do list was so much shorter back then.]


Most days, I love sitting in my big old, faded and tattered burgundy armchair to write so I can stare out the front window at the tall plum, pine and birch trees filled with birds visiting the feeders (placed there in part so I can watch my indoor cat get her dander up and say what my son calls “kitty bad words”).  But, the problem with the front yard is that cars come and go all day, a reminder that we’re still quite close to highways and busy byways.  The idea of retreating to a verdant space behind the house seems so wonderful, but it’s just a whimsical gleam in this non-gardeners eye.


I should also mention that it doesn’t help that my backyard is what I call a “glorified grass deck”: 30 feet long and 15 feet across – not a lot of room to play in the dirt to make magic happen.  Besides, what grass is there seems to be more for this one particularly beady-eyed gopher’s entertainment than for anybody else’s enjoyment.


The rest of the country is enjoying their autumnal colors, which we only get in snippets in SoCal, so I’m trying to convince myself that my dying grass in the back is really changing color to give me the season I long for.  On my walk today I pulled a lone burgundy leaf off a tree to tape to my computer monitor, to further perpetuate my fantasy of having a true autumn.


Thank goodness for an active imagination and all of the places I can go with my eyes closed.  Tomorrow, I think I will make myself a pot of tea, set a few magazines in front of me, but instead of finding out what the three secret steps were toward garden sprucing, I think I’ll pop across the country in my mind to visit the best places for fall foliage.  That way, the gopher and I can both take it easy and enjoy our respective plots of land. Maybe even in repose.

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