Saturday, February 7, 2009

Neighborhood Watch

Not too long ago a guy down the street decided to do something about his yard. It had always been so bad that I wondered if anyone even lived there; barren patches of dusty dirt, the occasional clutch of low weeds; a discarded toy. It seems that he might have had it in mind to do something along the lines of our front yard, but the job went terribly awry from the first.

Initially I saw him digging in the front for a few days. He turned over some soil and tried to contour the land somewhat. Lacking a clear vision and a sense of proportion his efforts yielded nothing more than a yard with “irregularities”, creases and bumps rather than anything that might have suggested a natural landscape. Next, with no real soil preparation he went out and bought some plants – not nearly enough – and stuck them around the yard. The spacing was unnatural. There were no groupings or attempts to combine sizes, colors or textures; just a plant here and a plant way over there and another one over there. The very next day I awoke to find his driveway heaped, filled with broken bits of wood. These were not the kinds of bark nuggets or shavings you ordinarily use for landscaping, these were big; anywhere from the size of a hot dog to a fist. He started throwing shovelsful of this stuff around the yard. It went on for a couple of days. The overall effect, when he was finished, was that of a pine grove having imploded on his front yard. And of course the teenie little plants had all but disappeared amid the rubble, too insignificant to matter. Eventually he had spread about 6 to 8 inches of this broken wood around. And that was it. So now, instead of having a neighbor whose yard screams “PUT WRECKED CAR AND OLD REFRIGERATOR HERE!” we have one whose yard resembles a diorama of Mt. St. Helens.

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