Monday, November 25, 2013

Being in the backyard

One of the reasons we moved from a very walkable central neighborhood to a slightly less central and much less walkable neighborhood was space.  Not interior space--though we were outgrowing our one-bedroom apartment with HP on the way--but exterior.  I wanted to garden.  I want to hang clothes outside to dry.  I wanted the space to work on projects without compromising our living space in the process.  I wanted to look out my window and not see a parking lot. 

But more than all of that, I wanted my child to grow up in a place where he could connect to the outdoors in a real kind of way.  Of course there are parks, trails, and other community outdoor spaces, but it did not--and does not--feel the same as a yard.  A yard feels more intimate, more personal.

I have hundreds of memories of the backyard from my childhood.  I remember creating an ongoing story with my friends that involved a home we created under the pine tree near the fence as though we were boxcar children.  I remember the makeshift baseball field we designed and how we originally ran the bases the wrong way.  (We were not a sports family.)  I remember hours spent crafting daisy chains in the summer with our neighbors two houses down.  I remember the magic of catching fireflies on the back patio.  I remember thinking that there was absolutely nothing better than running through the sprinklers on a hot summer day.

I want that for HP.  Not a replica of my childhood, but an outdoor space that is uniquely his in a way that public places never will be.

Let clarify a few things about our yard.  We do little to no upkeep.  I would be embarrassed about it, but I can't be bothered to care.  We are terrible at landscaping, mowing, and generally keeping our yard looking presentable.  I blame the fact that our time devoted to all things house related has focused on interior projects like the kitchen and bathroom.  For the first year we lived here our backyard was an overgrown mess.  Now that HP is of an age where he wants to be outside as much as possible, we are slowly making it into a landscape fit for toddler fun.

We do not have a slide.  We do not have a swing.  We have no jungle-gym type contraptions.  We do have leaves, buckets, a broom, sticks, rocks, bugs, and golf balls.  Some days HP carries the buckets around collecting leaves.  Other days he wants us both to sit on them and chat.  This morning we spent half an hour walking up and down the mulch path that leads from our patio to the back gate and into the wilderness* beyond.

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that I am spending less time picking up toys as HP and I abandon the confines of the indoors for the adventures in our backyard. 

I can't say I mind the change.

*Of course I use the term wilderness lightly, though the grass past the gate is taller than HP's head and eventually prevents him from continuing.  I think that's pretty wild in his world.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life lately: Where I've been edition

It's been a long month, friends.  A long, long month.

Things big and small that have been happening 'round these parts, the most all-consuming of which were:
(1) HP sprouted all four of his canine teeth.  I know that is interesting news to no one but me.  But I do not care.  These teeth have been the bane of my existence for the last four weeks.  Sleep has been horrendous.  HP was waking up at least three and sometimes as many as half a dozen times a night.  Not okay.  Then last night, the first night as a sixteen-toothed baby, he slept for eleven hours straight.  I was so estatic when I woke up at 4:30 and realized we hadn't heard a peep from him that I could not fall back asleep.  Fingers crossed it wasn't a fluke.  And yes, the fact that my child got four new teeth gets first billing in our household.
(2) We did not have a functioning shower from Oct 12th to Nov 17th.  I could write more about this, but I think it's obvious--having a shower is great, not having a shower was not.
There's more (isn't there always more?), but those two items paint the picture.

The thought of coming here and writing occurred to me many times over the past month, but it just felt like too much.  Any free moment I had was dedicated to sleeping, mindlessly surfing the internet, reading, and streaming mediocre television shows--not necessarily in that order.  But now I'm back.

I've missed this space.