Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pond, Gazebo, and LOTS of Compost

Do you remember that scene at the end of Four Weddings and a Funeral where the girl who is supposed to marry the main guy looks at herself in her bridal regalia and takes this deep, satisfied inhalation through her nostrils? That's exactly how I feel.

We raked that yard, my friends. Even with the two of us working together it took all afternoon. Plus, we had to leap on the leaf pile a bunch to compress it down enough the fit in our (actually rather roomy) compost bin. (Do you want to see action shots of Matt compressing the leaves? I assure you, you do. Scroll down to the bottom for a blow-by-blow photo essay on poetry in motion.) But the yard looks SO nice and clean, and the weather was glorious--brisk and breezy and blue and sunny.
This was our main--not our only-- pile of leaves.

Matt was in charge of dumping the leaves (I'm not strong enough to lift a wheelbarrow full of leaves high into the air to dump on top of the compost pile). While he was trekking back and forth to the backyard, I kept getting inspiration for new projects.

For example, I finally took a pair of loppers to that out-control-ligustrum that was eating our pond. Suddenly, I can imagine the pond being a really nice feature, rather than just a weirdly placed anomaly.

The pond, pruned

I dismembered the boxwood so Matt could dig up its carcass and haul it off.

The Twig Formerly Known as Boxwood

In the course of digging, he broke that cheapo shovel I bought for $12 this summer. (I knew it was a mistake while I was doing it, but I was unpleasantly constrained by fiscal realities.) So tomorrow we'll replace it so that we can finally get our camellia, 'Yuletide,' in the ground in lieu of the boring boxwood. Such a trooper, that camellia, and so hardy--it's blooming its little head off as we speak.

'Yuletide'--the only camellia that thrives in Austin (and, we hope, Elgin)

And finally, and most gloriously, we finally sawed the back railing off the gazebo. (How I hate saws! What a clumsy, awkward, barely functional tool! So hard to use, so difficult to control, so slow to complete the task at hand!) You see, the gazebo is about 10' away from our back door. You walk out the door, and the sidewalk leads dead into the gazebo. Which then dead ends 6 feet later in a railing. Even though there's tons of yard on the other side, the gazebo stops you cold, less than 20' from the back door. So stupid.

This gazebo says, "You shall not pass!" (The dark fire shall not avail you)

I've been wanting to dismantle that back railing for months and months so that the gazebo, instead of preventing you from entering the yard, would urge you onward, welcoming you, tantalizing you with views of the pond and the trees beyond. With its (currently non-functional, but nevermind that) porch swing, the gazebo now says, "Enjoy the yard as much as you like! Venture all the way out in search of new experiences, or linger in the familiar comfort of my environs--I accommodate myself to your comfort!" That's what the gazebo says.

Now the gazebo says, "Enjoy the yard as much as you like! Venture all the way, &c." Or it would say that, if we hadn't left a trailer in the middle of the yard, blocking the view.

We also came up with a clear plan for starting our shade patio, a paved area under the cottonwood that takes advantage of the coolest part of the yard. We'll have to do it in stages, of course, but it should ultimately be a great place to have dinner, read a book, or snooze in the hammock that Mattchew and Bianca gave us for Christmas.

AND we made tentative plans to put in a walk from the pond, through the gazebo, all the way to the shade bed, reusing stones that are already on the property.

So all in all, a really great day. I am fairly simmering with a pleasant combination of satisfaction and anticipation.

Here's Matt, perfecting the art of the leafjump. My camera has a setting for taking a sequence of pictures in rapid succession, so I just held down the shutter and chanted, "Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!"

Yes, really. Not staged--that's what happened. Matt jumped. Matt disappeared. Only his feet were visible. Priceless.

Also unscripted. It's really hard to get to your feet in a leaf pile.

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