Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sex In The Side Yard

 Just a few weeks shy of three years ago, I teased about a new pallet-related project that I was incubating. Complete with a photo of me wielding a paintbrush long after dark, I promised a knock-your-socks-off reveal. You can find the full post here.


I never came through on that promise.

And yesterday, as I pulling weeds in the vicinity of said mystery project, I suddenly realized my oversight. So as soon as the area was tidied up, I ran for my camera and captured the long-awaited shots.

Now I'm finally ready to tell my story.

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The best ideas are when you take two older ideas that have nothing to do with each other, make them have sex with each other, and then build a business around the bastard, ugly child that results.
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Part One:

I grew up in Michigan's lake country where long ago, glaciers carved a series of long grooves in the earth that eventually filled with water and became a maze of lakes and rivers. All year round, ever since I was tiny, our lives were oriented to the lake - sledding and skating in the winter, boating and swimming every summer. 

Since I was old enough to walk, every summer I spent countless hours padding up and down the quintessential dock - unfinished boards bleached silver grey in the sun, running horizontally beneath my little pink toes. I miss a lot of things about those precious days around the lake, but the simple pleasure of walking up a down a wooden dock is high on the list.

Part Two:

My side yard is a tiny slip of a thing, just wide enough for a narrow path along the west side of the house. I've tried quite a few different plantings and walkways over the years but always my efforts have devolved into an overgrown, jungly, impassable mess.

Another problem with this sassy side yard of mine is that, for lack of a better place, it has become a dumping ground for the hundreds of rocks that my husband and I have dug out of our garden beds over the years. For years now, we've been piling them along the sloping bit of the side yard, where the bit of level ground slopes down to the bottom of the fence, and while the rocks don't absolutely need to live there, it would take considerable effort to lift them all out and carry them away to somewhere else, wherever that might be.

And let's not even talk about how many spiders and slugs I would encounter living among those rocks. Just ew. 

Part Three:

The summer of 2016 was a glorious high point in our pallet-collecting days. A few years before, as was the trend, we'd used an intact pallet to make a coffee table. But since then, we'd come across the winning strategy of simply disassembling the pallets and using the wood as lumber. My husband had stored up a generous supply of pallet lumber, nails and staples removed, ready and waiting for me to dream up a project. 

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And somewhere in my brain, during the magical first week of August, all three of these ideas that had been circling around in my brain, came together in a mighty crash and BOOM! Out of nowhere, the solution was crystal clear.

Come. Let me show you. 

^ Let's start here, in the far corner of my front yard. Follow the stepping stones under the trellis. Nine times out of ten, I bonk my head on those wind chimes so don't feel bad if you do too. 

^ Up the little rise and then back down. I've left the gate open so you can get a glimpse of what lies beyond. 

^ There it is - my new pallet walkway. My collection of pallet lumber, sanded and sealed against the weather, just the width of my narrow path, and looking just enough like a Michigan dock to make me feel quite at home. 

^ The path ends here as my side yard turns the corner into my back yard, and the pallet boards give way to stepping stones. My bare feet love the feel of the different surfaces. 

^ Okay, let's turn around and go back. This angle offers a better view of my rock collection which runs the entire length of the walkway. Half of them are hidden by those plants on the left: Japanese anemone. I'm not kidding when I tell you that every spring I rip them all out with my bare hands and by midsummer, they have sprung back up again. My original vision was to keep that low, clean line of rocks unbroken by any vegetation, but I admire a plant with such determination so I have struck an uneasy truce. 

^ Here we are, back in the front yard again. Thank you for joining me on my much belated mini-tour, and I hope I brought back happy memories of doing cannonballs off a wet, weathered dock in the hazy heat of a Midwest summer afternoon. 

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And in case you're wondering, this project used up most of our pallet lumber supply. But since then, we've brought home more pallets and are in the midst of some new projects. 

Stay tuned for more details. And this time, I won't wait three years

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For more of my pallet projects, check out these stories:

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