You may recall, Dear Reader, that our summers here at Screwloose Manor are usually celebrated by the township in the same way: namely, by festooning our home with cheery and brightly colored notices that indicate the displeasure of our neighbors with our, shall we say, laissez-faire approach to gardening and related matters.
It’s a season-long battle involving both parties trying to stare the other down and attempting to be the last to blink, like some tense and bureaucratic game of chicken.
Myron is the point man for the township and we have quite a collection of his official complaint forms, so large a collection, in fact, that we can compare handwriting samples and try to determine what mood he was in on any given day.
It’s always interesting to see how long it takes Myron to pay us a visit. Sometimes he seems to be jumping the gun, as if he figures we’re going to be trouble eventually so there’s no point in waiting to deliver the summons.
He’s probably correct on that point.
Other times, our Endless Summer Hydrangea bushes have to scribble a crazed and mazelike signature that wildly endeavors to hide the sidewalk beneath a chlorophyllic canopy, giving everyone in the neighborhood a rare and ageless glimpse of the Original Eden before Myron breaks out the notary seal.
Our predilection for attempting to revive the American Wilderness is a real and deep-seated one. Like Huckleberry Finn, we feel the need to “light out for the Territory,” so to speak, on occasion and one can’t very well do that with a well-manicured lawn that’s been emasculated by the short-sighted and prejudiced popinjays who feel as if you’re infringing on their space should a blade of grass be a hair out of place.
Blades of grass, indeed. Our lawn is large; it contains multitudes.
Their crusade to conquer and neuter an already impotent and compliant country by trying to prevent the full flowering of its naturally wild and exultant beauty will find no sympathy here. We will wait you out. Pave as many gardens as you please, but you’ll not get one inch further onto these lands. Ours is the sacred code of Life; ours is the everlasting battle between the Uncivilized and those that would Civilize them; ours the ancient and eternal struggle between the spontaneous and lively pipe organ of Nature and the sad and frustrated organ-grinder of Eternity.
And so the struggle continues, skirmish by skirmish, sortie by sortie.
Autumn is not far off now and soon the unending cascading of vines that characterizes the front of our home will subside and we can prepare to ignore the expected shoveling of the inevitable snow. We’ll have gotten through another year of engagement with the enemy and feel ready for our hard-earned hibernation.
But there was one more sneak attack today.
I was up early today when I suddenly realized I was overhearing a fairly loud conversation right outside my window between two men and it seemed to concern our garden.
I ran to the door and was outside in a flash, catching the conspirators as they were about to reach for the instruments of tidiness stashed in the back of their truck.
“Hey!” I said as I hobbled after the workmen, my cane leading the way. “What’s this about?”
Surprised, the two turned to face me. They seemed neither angry nor upset.
“Oh, hey man,” said one. “They just said to come out and do some cleaning up. Didn’t you order it?”
In point of fact, we’d been given the deadline of today to accomplish all the necessary work, but there was still some time left to do it by my calculation.
Explaining the situation, I continued “Well, look...you can see most of this is done, really..." I motioned towards the fence.
“That’s what we were saying, looks all right to us but they asked us to…”
“And I’m going to do this bit today, I mean, they can send someone to take a look if they want, but I’m not sure what more could be done.” By this time we were walking together around the premises, generally agreeing that we seemed to be up to code.
“Seems all right to us. I mean, it’s your yard, right? If you like it, why should they care?”
"Well," I said, "that's sort of what I thought..."
I was warming to this fellow right away.
Having completed our business, the man pointed to my walking stick and asked, “So, how are you feeling?”
I was a little startled, but answered “Oh, you know, I’ve been better!” and laughed.
“What is it, arthritis?”
“How did you know that?” I asked, impressed.
“Where is it, your leg?”
“Legs and back.”
“You wouldn’t know this but my people, Native American people, have always known how to fix this. You get a copper bracelet…”
“Yes, and you wear it on your leg, there around the ankle and it will help the arthritis.”
Now I remembered hearing these theories about copper bracelets before, but usually filed them away along with healing crystals and other new age babble.
But who knows? Like those cancer patients who are finally willing to try anything, perhaps I was ready to hold some of my usual skepticism at bay.
“Hope you’re feeling better,” the man said, shaking my hand and getting back into his truck.
“Thank you, thanks so much,” I said.
I went back into the house to do some research on copper healing, but wondered about what had just transpired.
I mean, I had sculpted this American Wilderness in our garden and suddenly an Original American, a Native American, appears and offers me counsel on how to use the earth to relieve my pain before disappearing once more into the mist?
Had I conjured him? Had I just experienced a Field Of Dreams
effect? You know, had I instinctively built this Old World, this New Frontier for him and maintained it until he felt secure enough to appear?
Probably not. After all, he was
driving an official township truck.
But it was something to think about.
I sat down and fell asleep in my chair, dreaming about the frontier and the territory and the tumbleweeds and the earth and its metals and its magnets.
I can't wait till Myron sees what I've got planned for next year.