Backyard Adventures

I am someone who always tries to see the upside of things. Sometimes it’s harder to do than other times. I’ve learned to see the potential in situations and objects that perhaps other people don’t. A little belief and hope can go a long way toward achieving your dreams and as I often say, I always have hope!

While doing yard work two weekends ago, I looked behind my smaller shed and realized for the first time that there was a wooden bench thrown back in among the prickers. I don’t know how I’ve missed it the past two summers but the moment I saw it, I saw potential.

Wooden bench tossed behind my shed

Wooden bench tossed behind my shed

It looked sturdy and solid so I stepped back in among the prickers and dragged it out, suffering numerous scratches to my shins and forearms in the process. Once I set it upright in the grass I discovered it was a little dirty and a little wobbly. Nothing a good sanding and tightening of screws couldn’t fix!

The bench free of the prickers

The bench free of the prickers

I’ve been wanting a bench to sit in and enjoy my yard and I felt it rather fortunate that the previous owners had discarded something that I knew I could easily refurbish. With some sanding, adjustments, painting and the addition of a cushion, I felt the bench could be a lasting addition to my property. I also decided that I wanted to have it all fixed up by my father’s birthday so I could dedicate it to his memory. It seemed simple enough.

The following Friday I headed out after my office job on the quest for a bench cushion and paint. I’ve become rather fond of spray painting because it covers fast and dries quickly so I picked up some medium blue spray paint at the store. I thought I’d be able to find a bench cushion in the same store but alas none of the cushions they carried were even remotely appealing. I also realized that one-piece replacement bench cushions might not exist. I then checked three more stores but couldn’t find an adequate replacement cushion and I felt extremely discouraged.

I’m not one to throw in the towel so I decided I’d at least sand and paint the bench Saturday and head out Sunday on the cushion quest again. Saturday was a beautiful spring day and I spent almost the entire day outside mowing, weed whacking, trimming trees, raking, cleaning my car, walking Jazz and yes, I even managed to fit in thoroughly sanding the bench and tightening the screws. I was exhausted by the end of the day but still hopeful that Sunday I’d find a cushion for the bench.

Sunday dawned bright and beautiful as the sun streamed in through the curtains of my end window. I’d planned on getting an early start but my tired body said otherwise so I lingered in bed until almost 9am. Once fed, showered and dressed I headed out to the nearby town where I was certain one of the stores would have the cushions I needed. The downside of it being such a lovely weekend was that everyone had already been to the stores and pretty well depleted the stock of attractive replacement cushions. I now knew there was no way I was going to find a one-piece bench cushion so I’d decided I’d buy two chair cushions. Even that decisions didn’t seem to help.

I finally found cushions that were pretty, inexpensive and the right size and I was able to return home triumphant. I placed the two replacement chair cushions on the bench and they fit perfectly! I was so pleased with myself. That afternoon my oldest daughter, Jordan helped me spray paint the bench and as it was windy, that proved quite an interesting undertaking. By the time we’d put two coats on the bench, my arms and legs were speckled with blue paint.

That task accomplished, I set about refurbishing the red Radio Flyer wagon my mother had given me. It had been sitting out behind my house in the elements so the inside had become too rusty to safely sit in. I’d had the brilliant idea to use it as a planter for the flowers that were overcrowding my pots and I felt it could be a little portable garden. I placed rocks down in a layer then the soil on top and dug in with bare hands, playing in the dirt until all of my snapdragons, pansies and daisies were happily planted. Once it was complete and the chair was dry enough to put the cushions on, I set both projects under my big back pine tree and snapped a photo of my accomplishments.

Comfy bench and portable wagon garden

Comfy bench and portable wagon garden

I’d done it! I’d finished the bench and the wagon garden by my father’s birthday! I knew his spirit was proud of me and I was proud of myself. My daughters and I sat on the bench that evening watching the birds at my back feeder and the bluebird even made an appearance atop my other back pine tree. The next evening my mother came over for dinner for my father’s birthday and we sat in the bench watching the birds again. It was very calm, comfortable and peaceful.

My daughters enjoying the bench

My daughters enjoying the bench

I’d discovered yet again that even the simplest seeming plans don’t always turn out being that way. Never giving up hope and purpose really are the key to success at anything and sometimes if you can’t go over an obstacle, you have to find a creative way around it. Life is all about the journey and it’s full of more than a single destination. Adventures don’t have to happen in exotic, far off places. They exist right in your own backyard.

Mistress of Mowing

Mistress of Mowing's Front Lawn

Mistress of Mowing’s Front Lawn

I’d never driven a riding lawn mower until I mowed the acreage of my new home in the summer of 2011. It took me 3.5 hours that first time and when I finished I’d made such odd-looking circular patterns the lawn resembled a golf course. I was tempted to stick some flags into the center of the various circles but I resisted. Regardless, I was proud of myself and enjoyed the experience. Almost two years later, I still like mowing my lawn.

Yes, I said I like mowing my lawn. Even on day’s like today when the battery was giving me trouble and the shed doors closed just after I started the mower which left me coughing in exhaust fumes. I then had a stern talking to the doors (hooked them open) plugged my battery into the charger and set about my morning, all the while wreaking of tractor exhaust. I didn’t see any point in showering when I still had to mow once the battery was juiced up. All that is not what I enjoy about mowing though.

When I finally did start mowing, it felt wonderful being out in the sunshine under the bright blue sky. The air was warm, there was an occasional breeze and the grass was finally dry enough that it didn’t bog down my mower. It’s still early in the season so my grass was only really deep in a few areas but I did the whole yard to give it a uniform start. I listen to music while I mow and quite often dance along to it. My neighbors undoubtedly think I’m insane for all sorts of reasons so I don’t see any harm in doing what makes me happy during chores. I occasionally pause in the shade to change my music or answer a text but otherwise I continue mowing.

There was one lone white butterfly flitting around the front yard as I finished that last 1/3 of my property. I adore butterflies and always take them as a positive sign of hope and renewal. There were few other bugs out thankfully and I didn’t have any other major issues mowing today.

When I get off the mower my whole body is still vibrating from the ride but eventually that subsides and I feel human again. I came inside and happily washed the mower stink off and dressed in comfortable summer clothing. I enjoy mowing but it isn’t my entire life and I don’t obsess over every little spot or insist on weed whacking every time. Mowing my yard is something that has to be done and I take as much pleasure in it as I can. I am not a master of mowing because I’m always learning but I am a Mistress of Mowing because I am skilled at being the keeper of my land.