Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Elizabeth's Legacy

For twenty years, my back yard was a dog yard. I mowed it, cleaned up after the dogs, and left it alone. The city did sewer work one year, dug a huge hole (two dogs fell in), and tore out some mature photina, replacing them with 3-gallon plants which the male dogs promptly peed on and killed. The grass went from weeds to bare. It was an eyesore.
By this spring Greg, my all-purpose lawn guy/neighbor/friend, had restored the grass, and Elizabeth began putting plants at the corner of the apartment and scattering a bit of statuary--mostly Buddhas--around the yard. She hung bird feeders in the trees, and a birdcage. Then Jordan brought a table they were not using, and we dragged plastic chairs out of the garage storage space. Elizabeth, Jordan and I began to have happy hour out there.
Yard table--we can't figure out what happened to the fourth chair
In the back of my mind, I'd always toyed with the idea of a deck outside the back door but to look at what? A barren waste? But now I could see a garden beginning to emerge. The idea of a deck had more appeal, so I talked to the contractor who keeps my house in shape, and he drew up plans. By my birthday in mid-July we were celebrating with dinner on the deck and tables on the lawn.
I love the stepping stones to nowhere
They used to go from the apartment to the back door so the boys wouldn't bring in mud
The yard now sports a bottle tree--Jacob and Elizabeth put it up Sunday, a yard flag, new rose bushes that will grow tall and bushy and block out the garage behind us.
Bottle tree--note to the left a rose bush that will be much bigger next year
and to the right Turk's cap
For the birthday party, Susan cleaned up the bed on their side of the yard and laid pavers out to form a bed, though it's so shady coleus may be the only thing that will grow there. I found a cherub-like figure in the back of my closet to take the place of the Buddhas that are moving to Pennsylvania, and Melinda from my office brought me a wonderful flying purple pig.
The deck table has all the amenities--a bug-repellent lantern that really works, two candle-like lamps in iron containers, a small fountain that bubbles and gurgles. Oh, and at some cost, we have electric power. We need to deck the deck with tiny white lights.
The yard flag, with Susan's new bed to the right; doghouse in front right
with a child's chair Susan added for whimsy

The yard is still a work in progress, but it's changed so much over one summer. And if Elizabeth hadn't put out those petunias and statues, it never would have happened. Her legacy, of course, goes far beyond the tangible things of the garden to deeper levels of friendship and sharing. It's been a great year for each of us, and I'm sad that just as we've figured out a pretty good way to balance our independent lives with living on the same property, she's moving. She believes the Universe moves as it should; I believe God has a plan for each of us. We're moving on, but I can sit on my deck and stare at my garden and silently thank her.
Actually we've decided I can sit on the deck, and she can sit on her patio, each of us with wine, and share our usual evening catch-up sessions by texting.

No comments: