Monday, June 22, 2009

Grandma's Yard

Back in March I wrote about the trees in my childhood yard. I've been meaning to follow it up with a post about my Grandmother's yard. I finally wrote it!

Grandma's Yard

My grandma lived on the other side of our small town. It was just over a mile away, so we were over there at least once a week. In nice weather, we spent a lot of time in the yard. Grandma's house sat on a corner lot, and she owned the next lot too, so there was a lot of space to play.

The first trees we always saw were the two large cedar trees on the narrow side yard by the street. They kept the east side of the house shaded and kept the grass from growing. Hidden in the shade, beneath a small roof was the "side door" that opened to the landing of the basement stairs. Morning glories climbed up a trellis on each side of that door, white blooms on one side, dark blue-purple ones on the other.

Mom would drive past those trees and park in the small, blacktopped "driveway" next to the back door. That parking place had rosebushes along both sides. My favorite was a shade of pinky-orange that Grandma told me was her favorite too.

We nearly always used the back door, going through the back porch into the kitchen. The only time we used the front door was at Halloween when we pretended to be strangers and thought that we would confuse her with our masks.

A concrete walk ran across the yard from the back door to the garage. We sometimes tried to catch leaves of grass on fire, using a magnifying glass, but never had any luck. There were no trees in the yard between that walk and the street, just a pole where the clothesline hung. With no shade, the sheets and shirts and housedresses fluttered in the sunshine on washday, and dried quickly.

On the other side of the street, the closest tree was a large shade tree. I remember it as a tulip poplar, but I may have that wrong. I think there was an elm tree at one time, but like most elms, it became diseased and had to be cut down. Near the southwest corner of the house was the largest maple that I had ever seen. I loved playing with the maple wing seeds that would flutter down like helicopter rotors.

On the southeast edge of the house were some kind of evergreen bushes, trimmed to stay between the house and the walk. They sometimes had fleshy red fruits on them and since the grownups hadn't said anything about them, we dared each other to eat them, telling each other they were poisonous. They didn't taste like much, so we never ate very many and since they never made us sick they couldn't have been poisonous after all.

To the south of the maple, in a nice sunny spot was where Grandma had rhubarb planted. We were told from an early age not to eat the leaves because they were poisonous. Since all the grownups told us that, we didn't dare to try them.

At the back of the yard, on the south edge along the alley, was a pussy willow that had grown out of control. It was taller than some trees.

On the west edge of the yard, next to the neighbor's back yard, was an olive tree. I liked its soft grayish leaves, and wondered why there were never olives on it. I decided we lived too far north, where it was too cold for it.

Along the west side of Grandma's house, under the dining room windows, were spirea bushes. They bloomed their soft sprays of white just in time to use as filler in our May baskets.

Another spring flower was what Grandma called "nekkid ladies." These flowers sprouted up on fleshy-colored stems, and bloomed a soft pink. Only after that died down did the green leaves come up. We always waited until the greens died back before cleaning them up, so that the flowers would have enough energy stored to come up the next spring.

Grandma had peony bushes at either end of the row of naked ladies. I think they were white or maybe pale pink. And Grandma got help digging them up each fall. She stored them in the basement until spring.

My favorite thing growing in Grandma's yard was the redbud tree growing in the northwest corner of the yard. It was very large – big enough to climb. And Grandma did let us climb it, much to my mother's dismay (she wasn't big on tree-climbing as an activity).

But best of all in Grandma's yard was the swing. When I was little there was an old glider-style swing that had benches facing each other. Four of us could (and did) swing back and forth at the same time. It was wooden and eventually fell apart, but while it lasted it was like flying.

There were tulips and forsythia, daffodils and dandelions. We searched the clover patches for the lucky ones with 4 leaves. And on hot summer afternoons, Grandma's painted metal chairs beckoned us to sit down with a cold glass of lemonade, where we could kick off our shoes and run our toes through the soft grass in the shade.


Anonymous said...

Love this post. Thank you. Happy Earth Day

sister AE said...

thanks, Stephanie. Like the pics from your Grandmother's yard, too.