Sometimes, I look across our yard and sigh somewhat woefully, “Too much of that stubborn red Georgia clay shines through.” I think, “Oh, one day….”
I have been thinking this for six or seven years. I’d love for grass to grow where the orangey-redness dominates and the rocks glitter in the unblinking sun. It takes hard work, money, dedication and water to do what I’d like to do. I can supply the hard work and much of the dedication, but the money and water are bosses unto themselves.
I tried. A couple of times at least. It cost a small fortune in seed and fertilizer to cover half of the yard while my freckles multiplied rapidly in the three days it took me to cover it with straw. But I lost 2 pounds, and I’ll take more freckles if it means less poundage.
“You know, I have a blower that could do that straw in 20 minutes,” Rodney commented <italic> after </italic> the work was done.
“And you didn’t tell me before?”
He shrugged. “Didn’t think of it.”
Then, after that hard work, dedication and small fortune, the rain didn’t come. A drought, both times, stole from me everything I had sweated. Oh, I know there are people who would have spent whatever money and water it took to wet the ground because I lived in a subdivision once where there were folks who had fantastic lawns because of regular watering while folks a few miles away didn’t have enough water pressure to shower. I can’t do it. I can’t rob the environment while others suffer. We have to share the resources. It’s the neighborly thing to do.
“Maybe we should put in a well,” Tink suggested. I nodded. I didn’t do that when I built the house because I didn’t realize technology had made wells practically maintenance-free. I just remembered all the times, in freezing weather, Daddy had primed ours when I was growing up.
“Or we could irrigate from the creek,” I said somewhat distractedly. So many thoughts come into my head at once when I think about the yard I’d like to have.
Lately, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about William Faulkner when I survey the bald patches and the raggedy weeds that spring up between the spare blades of grass. Have you ever visited Rowan Oak, his longtime home in Oxford, Miss., which is now owned by Ole Miss? Now, that yard makes mine look like the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in comparison.
The Southern colonial farmhouse sits back behind some tall, scruffy pines. The path leading to the house is dirt and often scattered with pine needles. The yard has bare patches and there is no proper landscaping around the house which, I would like to point out, I do have in the form of boxwoods, hollies, confederate jasmine and azaleas. The bushes that grow here and there at Rowan Oak are plain and simple as though they grow wild there and not planted by man.
Behind the house are scattered buildings -- storage and barn -- and the back yard looks like those of my mountain family who cut the grass (or let the mules out to graze) and that was it.
I think of Rowan Oak when I look at my yard and remember what Faulkner told his wife, Estelle, when she told him she would like to restore the gardens and make a pretty place of it. I can imagine him now, tilting his head down to look up at her when he spoke sternly.
“Only new money would ruin a garden like that.”
That makes me feel better for I have no new money and the old money I spent on it was obviously wasted.
So, I’ll just keep what’s left of the old money and learn to admire the old yard.
Thank you, Mr. Faulkner.
(Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of There’s A Better Day A-Comin’. Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.)