Neighborhood Envy

Hereʼs another post, like yesterdayʼs, composed while it drizzled on Saturday afternoon and Janet conversed with her sister on the telephone. The downpour was just a light drizzle and even almost nothing through most of the afternoon. I had the window beside the computer open, and the strong breeze wafted not raindrops but the heavy scent of lilac in to me. Our big lilac right there outside the window has leaped about a foot taller, it seems, since last year. All the rest of the plants have done well, too, except for the dogwood, which the rabbits gnawed to shreds except for two stalks that are heavy with leaves now (and the stubs the rodents left are also sprouted lushly). Janet and I put in six new bushes two weekends ago (waiting until Sunday in case the predicted frost Saturday night arrived; it didnʼt). The rotten rabbits got to a tiny sand cherry within forty-eight hours, but Iʼve shrouded it in rabbit fence, and we hope the sticks remaining might recover. Rabbits make me want a gun (although firing arms within the city limits is not permitted) or better yet, an effective slingshot. Whereʼs King David when you need him?

Does anyone know a good rabbit poison?

Anyway, we planted two more lilacs on the east side of the house (raising our lilac count to four), the sand cherry in the northeastern corner as one more contribution to concealing the urban slumland of Gasser True Valueʼs butt-end from view, and three wigelia bushes on the western side of the house where Janet had all previous years planted annual flowers (geraniums and petunias). Like my friend Kevin (and his wife Dawn), I believe I have come to desire my yard to resemble a foresty wonderland. But letʼs preserve the bushes and plantings for a future post.

Right now I expect my neighbors think so, because our grass is long and unkempt …

my own much-abused copy of Burroughsʼs first novel

It rained all weekend, staring about 10:00 AM Friday morning. Both of my neighbors on either side heeded the weather forecasts, getting their butts outdoors to mow their lawns before the deluge. I had hoped to do so Friday morning, but the rain doused that plan (and I really didnʼt mind, I think). However, on Sunday morning, as all those Methodites drove to church, they had to endure the untidy mess of our untended and shaggy greensward (I have loved that word ever since I first encountered it in Edgar Rice Burroughsʼs A Princess of Mars as a preteen in Rock Island, devouring my sisterʼs books; I guess it became common knowledge that I was borrowing and reading and rereading hers so that my maternal grandmother was given the hint to make all eleven Ballantine Barsoom books my Christmas gift our first year in Olivet, Michigan, 1966 [?]. To be honest, I donʼt really know nor can I calculate how many times I must have reread those books and most of the rest of Burroughs — dozen[s].)

But back to the yard…

Taking a break from my work preparations on Saturday to whip out both yesterday and todayʼs posts — feeling uncertain how creative I might be after training days — I felt that with the rain not actually falling, perhaps I should get out and slog through the wet yard with the lawn mower, reducing the overgrowth in the (wait for it: here it comes again) greensward. However, as you can tell by my predicted/now-past perceptions of the churchgoing Methodists (there, this time Iʼll prove that I do know the true name of the religious persuasion into which I was born, baptized and twice confirmed — thereʼs a whole ʼnother post ahead someday on my religious upbringing and experiences), I am not intending to fulfill that guilty obsession.

It is too wet, and even the acquisition of Bingʼs much lighter mower (than our previous duck-taped and otherwise jerry-rigged dinosaur) wonʼt prevent me from making mower-tracks in the wet sod. Even walking around the yard, as Janet and I did returning from lunch/grocery-buying to check on things and acquire some lilac cuttings for her to envase for the living room, put shoe prints some places. No, we really could not mow on Saturday before the churchgoers would pass by.

So the yard remained longhaired and natural rather than civilized and trimmed (that reference is for all fans of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s Wind, Sand and Stars, particularly the brief essay “Oasis” — which I made so many Andrew students read from my very first year in the district, latterly in Advanced English — in which the so-called princess gives her heart, yearning for the dream of near-perfection, to an imbecile “who loves only trim lawns”).

I really should encapsulate all my thoughts on Saint-Exupéry in a lit-crit essay for the blog…

— Maybe I need to create a post on our old lawn mower. It really is quite a wreck that I have wired and taped, twisted and kicked into a kind of functioning order (that scares Janet). It has been interesting, even if only for the first time so far, to have to hold one of those levers again to keep the engine running on Bingʼs machine.

Maybe I need to close this out for today, having wandered my way well past a thousand words. Enjoy your greenswards, one and all!

I said “jerry-rigged” in the post. I believe I have mentioned before that I first met that lovely word/phrase in a childish adventure book about a lone man scaling the Himalayas to avoid evil Chinese communists. Thereʼs a memory I would love to revisit if anyone could suggest what novel that might be… I have more or less decided that the Genghis Khan-and-his-Mongol-hordes book I had read to me in fourth grade might have been one of Harold Lambʼs.

If you try the link on “jerry-rigged,” you will learn what I didnʼt know, that itʼs a bastardized blend of “jury-rigged” and “jerry-built.” I like the triple-combination meaning myself over any of the single ones. I blush that my word is such an illegitimate thing, but I have always felt that “jerry-rigged” carried all three overlapping sets of meanings. (And, if you check back on the Pockets post in which I first discussed both books, the term in the adventure tale was “jerry-can.”)

— I had an idea for my Sepharad story. Søren and Nathan sound too much alike to me. How about Judah (or Yehuda) for my Jewish character? I think that because of his bipolar schizophrenia he will be known as Tahmid (“flame”) or maybe Uryon (“flame” or “light”) as a kind of nickname (much as Conan was called Amra, the Lion, from his pirating days with Bêlit). Reactions?

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

3 thoughts on “Neighborhood Envy

  1. I can’t comment on the character names since I haven’t followed any prior threads on story and who’s who.
    The Himalayas-scaling novel – could it be Lost Horizon (James Hilton, 1933)? The plot didn’t involve escaping communists, but an insurrection in Pakistan. It was the book that involved a number of people discovering Shangri-la. I too have half a memory of another book that did involve someone scaling the Himalayas in 1949 to escape the revolution but can’t think of the title or author at the moment. It was published sometime in the 1960s, I think.
    As to jerry-rigged – at least the lawnmower isn’t a Heath Robinson contraption!

    • Thanks! Definitely not Lost Horizon, unfortunately. Thatʼs a book I know well. I appreciate the interest!

  2. I have heard that the best thing to keep rabbits away is to spread human urine around your plants. Christy told me this trick, though we have not had to do it…the smell of our dogs keep most of the rabbits our of our yard. Christy had a friend and he used urine and it worked like a charm.

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