I’ve done what I can to transform my suburban yard into an environment that I truly enjoy, and at the same time keep up standards for my neighbors. And though I get some funny looks from the nabes and even passing strangers, everyone’s pretty pleased with what I’ve got going on so far. At least some are pleased. I know I am.
The pair of giant dice planters in the front is, I think , the height of taste and practicality. Each die measures about five feet on a side, and they are hooked together by steel bars, so this is quite the huge assembly. One die is flat against the ground on its base, while the other is on edge like it’s still rolling. Snake eyes, anyone? It’s incredibly realistic, except for the gargantuan size. And each is scooped out at the top into a horizontal basin for plants. I have some real scraggly looking mint in there right now, but am thinking about tulips or something colorful that the nabes might appreciate more. Most have given me a thumbs-up on the planters, but a few gaze my way as if I’ve got a corpse on the lawn. It has to be the mint. Maybe I should try hibiscus.
On one of my side yard areas I have a giant inflated plastic pink pig that I got from the grocery where I used to work. It’s about 20 feet tall from hoof to back, and 35 feet long from curly tail to big, flat snout. It was an advertisement for a brand of ham and sausage that the store put out front on their parking lot where it could be seen from the road. It’s mounted on a wheeled platform so a car can haul it, and wouldn’t you know it vanished the night the store fired me for stealing? It has reappeared in my yard, minus the brand logo, appearing as just a plain, if colossal, hog, taking up virtually the whole area there. You have to see it to appreciate the scope of it. At night I put a spotlight on it. Yet here again some of my closer nabes are less than enthusiastic, judging by their remarks. They must be vegans or kosher types. What else could explain their anti-pork stance?
My other side yard, which borders my driveway where I park my potato chip delivery truck from my present job, contains an authentic recreation, done in miniature toy pieces, of the Battle of Vicksburg. The tiny Union troops in blue face off against little Johnny Reb in gray in entrenched positions. The lawn is sparse here since realism demanded the scorched earth and trenches of the battlefield. The toy cannon and mortars actually explode when I press the buttons for that on the control panel, and the battle rages all night under floodlights for everyone to enjoy and learn from. This scene took me the better part of a year to devise, with hundreds of soldiers and explosive devices to position properly, and for a Civil War buff like myself it is an unending treat. Of course the kids from around here adore it, and I have to practically beat them with a stick so they don’t get too close to the working mortars and flying cannonballs and flaming structures. Otherwise their pacifist parents would have me in court for endangerment, never mind that I’m expanding their kids’ historical knowledge. You can’t please peaceniks.
That brings us to the backyard, where my common-law wife disports herself in her skimpy swimsuit in my unfiltered aboveground pool, and where my compost heap grows daily. Charles, my tethered llama, processes most of my household garbage so I don’t have to pay for city pickup, converting it to useful fertilizer right there by his stake. I keep him tied so he doesn’t mess with my beehives, which are tucked into a corner of the yard by the sidewalk, ensuring that the ratio of bee stings to kids and patio dwellers skyrockets around here in summer. But that’s life. I don’t object to the nabes broadcasting country music from their car radios while they wash their foreign buggies or stinking up the air with outdoor grills or slapping dangerous golf balls down their yards in their silly lawn-to-lawn golf tournaments, and I expect them to leave me alone about my yard. Most do, seeing my yard as the oasis it is. But for those who complain: that sword cuts both ways.