Friday, July 3, 2020


"You have to really use your imagination to refresh your daily life." Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

As I puttered around my yard this weekend, the cold hard truth settled into my soul. 

This will not be a summer of mountain hikes, stargazing at the beach, or road trips across the Great Plains. Barring some sort of Covid miracle, I'm going to be spending the entire summer in my backyard. 

Mmm. Okay. I guess that's not the end of the world.

But an itch of unease began to creep across my skin as I felt another thought rise just behind the first. 

My backyard better get ready to live its best life. 

So. The first thing I did was to order an adult-size inflatable pool. The way I figure, it should be just big enough to fit a pool mattress, with a few inches of margin to spare. I'll close my eyes and pretend I'm at Cabo. 

So far, so good. 

As I put down my phone and picked back up the hose - I do my best thinking when I'm near running water - I had another thought. Maybe I'm just an inconsolable visionary or a raving perfectionist (check and check) but there are always little corners of my yard that drive me nuts, that fall short of my heady ideals and flash disappointment and shame into my heart whenever I walk by. 

Dramatic, I know. But that's how I feel.

So, I reasoned, if I don't want to drive myself crazy all summer long, I would be wise to attend to these places now. I don't have a big budget for expensive fixes, but with some imagination and creativity, I can certainly give it a shot. 

* * * * *
Oh, hello.

The first annoying spot on my radar is the area outside my side garage door which opens onto a narrow patio to the right, and on the left, a corral for our gigantic recycling and compost bins.

Overhead is a monster of an electricity meter that makes me want to cry. 

Several years ago, I gave this space some love by means of a small mirrored shelf that I found at the thrift store, perfect for a little potted plant to splash some green up near my eyes and pull them away from that utility box. 

But the mirror broke, the plant coasted into ugliness, the wooden shelf looked tired and it all needed help.

So here's what I did.

Grabbing a can of paint from the garage, I covered the shelf with a fresh coat of dark grey semi-gloss enamel. Intellectual by Behr. 

In my next life, I want to be the person who thinks up names for paint colors.
A long view down the side yard, taken from the vantage point of the recycling bin. That trellis doesn't belong there, but he is a story for another day. 

Searching for something that would fit on the little shelf, I looked over my collection of pots scattered here and there across the yard and found a prime candidate. He was currently providing lodgings for a succulent that had utterly overwhelmed him. Seriously, I couldn't see a square centimeter of the actual pot; it had been swallowed whole by a green leafy beast. 

I replanted the usurping plant in a garden bed where he had room to stretch out, scrubbed the pot clean, and plopped him on the freshly painted (and now dry) shelf. 

Today, I strapped on my freshly washed face mask and headed out to buy a new specimen for the pot. When I got home, I braved a chilly July drizzle to unite the two at my potting bench, and admired the finished look.
On our back patio, we keep a plastic kiddie pool full of water all year round because Gracie likes to climb in and lie down for a proper drink of water. Which means when she's ready to bring her dripping wet self inside, we have her go around through the garage for a proper toweling off. And this is the place where I meet her. 

It's a small change, to be sure. And a cheap one, too - the shelf, the pot, and the paint were all on hand, so this cost me maybe an hour of work and $4.99 for the plant. 

But now, whenever I haul my shovel and rake out of the garage, or dump the recycling, or let my dog inside, instead of cursing a shabby corner I will smile to see this simple scene.  

And over the course of what is likely to be a long corona summer, I will feel refreshed. 

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