We left off talking about playing in the front yard and driveway so far. Let me tell you about the back yard today so you have a picture of the house and surroundings where I grew up.
We could easily go into the house and out the back door to get to the back yard, but I have a memory of something that occurred right near the house on the side yard.
Half way up the front stairs, you could turn left on a sidewalk that lead around the house. Bushes were between the sidewalk and the house. A as we walk around the house, we see a flat dirt area along the side of the house. The dirt is held back by railroad ties. If they were not there, the dirt would fall onto the side walk. To your left as you walk, there is a large side yard with a big elm tree to shade the side yard.
My father Bought a rotor-tiller and ran it over the section between the brick house and the sidewalk and his plan was to plant a vegetable garden there. He chose me as his helper. We were pulling weeds and planting seeds there. I was young and bored within minutes but my dad wanted me to help him finish planting the garden.
Every time I looked up while working, I saw my siblings talking and snacking and playing in the kitchen. There was a picture window that allowed a great view of the side yard, the dead end road we lived on, the highway that ran past the neighborhood and an arboretum just past that.
I remember asking my dad why the other kids do not have to work. He said, "Don't worry, if they don't work, then they cant eat what grows here." So, I taunted them about that. In the end, that became a saying, "No workie, no eatie."
That summer, I learned that you should put two seeds in one spot in case one does not grow. Not a bad strategy. I did use it when I planted things after that. Now, I test the seeds before planting. The ones that sink in water are the ones you want to use. I also germinate them in a foil packet with moist paper towels inside. When they sprout, I plant them. But every time I plant a seed, I do think of my father and what he taught me.
Later, he set up a sprinkler in the garden. I was told to open the tap where the hose was connected to it and run around the house two times. Then shut it off. Great way to have a kid use a timer and burn up some of that extra energy too! The problem was that my brother and sisters would sometimes take the sprinkler out of the garden and put it in the yard. We did not have a pool and hot days were spent trying to cool off. I have clear memories of running and jumping over the water that was spraying upward in all directions. But after we were done, I would have to take the sprinkler back to the garden where it belonged.
Once you get past the house, you are in the back yard. All the houses on my street had similar back yards. If you step out the back door and walk straight ahead, you are on flat terrain for about fifty feet. Turn right and it would gradually go up hill, left was down hill. The back yard was not quite as big as half a football field. Under the flat part was a septic tank and the the grass was always thicker and more lush above it. The rest of the yard sloped downward into the forest, affectionately called the woods. Past the woods was a corn field.
At such a young age, I was only allowed out with my sisters who were older. We played in the forest behind our house and knew it very well. we would later build an entire neighborhood in those trees, but I am getting ahead of myself.
At the edge of the forest was a section of metal lattice where we had grape vines growing on the side that faced the house. Raspberries grew on the same lattice but on the side facing the forest. At the base of those, there was always rhubarb to harvest at will and it was a favorite snack for us as kids. We cut it and brought it indoors, washed it and then dumped sugar in a bowl. We dipped the end of a rhubarb stalk in the sugar and bit the end off. Rubarb would become less sour and more leafy tasting as you worked your way up to the leafy ends. That is how you knew when grab a new one.
As you walk around the east side of the house, we had another side yard but it was tiny. Our neighbors to that side, the Schmidts, had an equally tiny side yard and our houses were only about twenty feet apart. Split that and you have the width of each tiny side yard. Our house was brick and there were more grape vines planted all around the east side and they grew and climbed the brick walls all the way up to and under the eves of the house. Fall was a delicious time for us and my mother would later make grape jam.
Ground level of the side yard was eight feet higher than ground level of the driveway and the two met abruptly at the southeast corner of the house. There was a flagstone staircase that lead down to the driveway and flagstone wall about knee high that ran the length of the drive. It held the hill from pouring into the driveway.
This is is what a flagstone stairway looks like. Ours was twice as high. To the left would be our two car garage and to the right would be a 'retaining wall' running the length of the driveway. The problem with flagstones is that when it rains, the dirt runs out through the cracks and all over your driveway, soon you have a pit (where the left side plant is) with no dirt inside. The flagstones fall in the process over time, you find yourself climbing a dirt hill instead of stairs.
The flagstones used when our house was built were not as even as the ones in this picture.
Remember when I talked about bikes and how we rode them into the garage and skidded on the smooth cement floor? Well, there was another way we could earn the belt.. Between the corner of the house and the flagstone stairway was dirt with a few flagstones toward the bottom. There is no graceful way to descend eight feet right at the corner of the house. Someone had the idea that planting vines would hold the dirt back, but when kids slide down the dirt, it makes a butt shaped natural slide that was fun to ride but plants on that dirt slide did not do well.
We could not lift the flagstones but we would kick them out of the way so we could slide better. Oops. Whatever dirt the rain did not wash into the drive, we brought down with our little behinds. Later those same behinds would be striped.
If you have read all of my articles up until now, then you will have a pretty good idea of where all the events take place from here on out. We have worked our way around the house from the hill we lived on, the garage, the west side where the garden is, our huge elm tree named Elmily, the back yard and all the mysteries that will be discovered in the woods. You know completed one lap around the house with me and we can turn the water off after the second one! Most of my story will take place at this residence.
That's it for today.
It will take some time to get to how I got where I am. These articles are documenting the good, the funny, the hard knocks, love, heartbreaks, and successes of someone who thinks outside-the-box.
Have a look at some of https://read.cash/r/done.
You can also find me on Noise.Cash & memo.cash