We may have an actual problem at this point. It started out slowly. My mother handed me a plow my great grandpa used for the entire second half of the Twentieth Century. "It will make for great yard art," she promised.
I don't know that I had really thought about the fact that I was supposed to start putting non-plant art pieces in my yard, but then I remembered that I did grow up in a home where antique bird baths and chipped statues peeked through lush lilac bushes and beds of tulips. It was so subtle, the way my mom did it, that you didn't even realized why the garden felt so homey.
Once I placed the plow in the backyard and up against a red-brick wall, there was no turning back. Suddenly Skylar and I found ourselves traipsing the planet and gathering everything in our wake. The more weathered the better. The kitschier the sweller.
We found ourselves hauling home scraps of metal and rusted wagon wheels we found in the desert on a Saturday hunt for ghost towns. We bought up welded bird houses and hung them from trees. We purchased an old push grass cutter in Mississippi and plopped it in the side yard, weaving through it some vine most certainly not meant for our mountain desert climate—a passion project for my dear husband.
We collected colorful mosaic pots and wind chimes. We hung wall art and humming bird feeders.
Two weeks ago I flew home from a work trip. Skylar picked me up at the airport at 11:00 PM. "We struck gold!" he told me as we raced down the empty freeway back toward our quiet Sugarhouse neighborhood. "Lynne told me to come over and pick out whatever we want from her yard since she's not taking her yard art with her when she moves next month."
We pulled up to the house a few minutes later and before I could even unload my bags from the car I found myself carrying a 200 pound stone bench, a statue of a St. Francis of Assisi, several large standing pots, and half a dozen chipped wall hangings from Lynne's yard to ours.
"It's all so perfect!" Skylar said to Lynne, who thanked us profusely for taking these things from her so she'd have less to worry about as she frantically packs all of her belongings and prepares them to be shipped to Florida.
We placed the new pieces, nestled among our own lilac bushes and tulips. We hung the art on shed doors and bricked walls. We planted the pots and scattered them about.
Last night my mother handed me a bag of new yard art—a thank you gift for helping her plant a tree as she and dad aren't quite recovered enough from covid to engage in hard labor.
We hung the new pieces as soon as I got home and then stood in our yard, noticing that it now looks more like a funky garden store than an actual residence. We admired the stone rabbit missing one year sitting next to a miniature house with a vine weaving through it. A few feet a way was an old wooden ironing board that folds into a chair, holding a blue pot with freshly planted annuals. Across the yard there was a sign advertising "Fresh Strawberries" just above several strawberry plants and beside a rain catcher decorated with a red glass ball.
The art—there was so much of it, it could have suffocated us.
"It's perfect," one of us whispered.
Please enjoy this week's Strangerville:
This time in Strangerville, Meg might have a gambling addiction, Eli tried to charm a very mean woman at a bank once, and a woman has a wild experience trying to introduce her polite husband to her very lively family.
Attic, by Renae (Music by Less Hayden)
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter
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~It Just Gets Stranger