I wrote this essay in 1987 for one of the first college courses I took toward a degree I never obtained. I was thirty four years old, the mother of three very young children and totally in love with my life.
In less than five years it all changed and I changed with it.
The change had much to do with who I am today but now, how I wish I could see what life would have been if I had stayed in my own back yard.
The Place I Love the Most
My Own Backyard
I do not have to travel far to be in the place I love the most, my own back yard.
My grandparents, who lived in my house before me spent years cultivating and shaping the landscape around my house. Regretfully, I don’t have as much time as my grandparents did to devote to its maintenance, but even in its current state of dishevelment, it is still a beautiful place to me.
It is my own tiny piece of the Earth.
Before my family awakens, I like to stroll around the yard to enjoy the peaceful tranquility I find there. I share my brief repose only with a family of squirrels, a small flock of unidentified birds, and my dog, Ripples.
Ripples and I follow the same route each morning. The door opens onto a large cement patio which is usually strewn with bicycles and garden tools. I know there is a lawn chair in the corner, but I haven’t seen it since my son constructed his tent around it several months ago. The dog and I walk carefully through the maze of equipment that always seems to be left here.
Once we are safely off the patio, a winding path leads us down a gently sloping hill to the only level ground in the yard. This is an ideal place for a swimming pool, however the only water here is in an old cement birdbath, which is frequented by squirrels more than birds.
My favorite thing in this part of the yard is a giant maple tree surrounded by bare earth, and an old tire that hangs from one of its stoutest branches. My sons have spent hours hanging from the old tire swinging and swaying, and digging their sneakers into the ground to create this masterpiece of carved ridges in dirt and roots. This majestic old timber dominates the yard, dwarfing the miniature orchard that grows it its shade.
Although apple trees have been left to grow un-pruned and tangled among the wild honeysuckle, they are still very productive. Sadly though, raccoons and ground hogs pilfer much of the fruit before I can pick it myself. I wouldn’t mind so much if they would clean up after themselves. Instead, half eaten apples are left just about everywhere and small swarms of bees hover over the fruit attracted by the sweet smell of the recently discarded produce.
At the bottom of my gently sloping yard are the remains of a vegetable garden my son planted in the spring. The garden is a tangle of weeds and empty corn stalks and a shovel stands by itself, imbedded in the dirt at an awkward angle. Now that all the vegetables have been picked, the plants that remain look exhausted and ready to collapse under the weight of the first frost.
Beside the vegetable garden is a half-empty sand box with a variety of cars and trucks poised ready to begin play at any time. A lone, miniature soldier guards his mound of grit with a rifle held high over his head. Outside the box, the sand encrusted grass is littered with more soldiers. These must be the ones who lost the battle for the mound inside!
On our journey back to the house, the dog and I pass my children’s club house. A convoy of rusty dump trucks blocks the muddy stairs and the old wooden door is held ajar by the bottom half of a hockey stick. I haven’t been inside for quite a long time. I suspect this hideout is full of empty soda cans and Doritos bags. I heed the sign on the door that says, “keep out” and I trek my way back to the house.
My yard is lush and overgrown, and evidence of children is everywhere, but it is like an old pair of shoes; it may not look good, but it is very comfortable. Someday I hope to have the time to restore it to the splendor of what it was under the care of its previous owners just so my children will stop referring to it as “the jungle”.
May all your memories be good ones and may your future be as bright and happy as your childhood has been to us. Share your memories so they will live on beyond us all.
I got an ‘A’ for my essay and each of my children has read this many times over, I’m sure. For two of them it is their childhood. For the youngest one, his memories are more of the home we moved on to.
We’ve all grown older and while it seems a life time ago I can still hear the bees buzzing around those apples on the ground and I can still feel my Grandmother’s hands on mine as we screened the dirt that built those walls and gardens when I was four years old.
The time that has passed is a life time – but those memories are mine, forever!
My children are all adults making memories of their own now but they all remember Oatmeal Lace Cookies and Jackie Ripples!
Being a Mom – it’s the best thing you can be!
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