A day at the beach is relaxing, the amusement park fun, but neither is more satisfying than a day spent working in my backyard. Saturday morning begins on my back porch where I slip on my old tennis shoes, stained green from years of cutting grass in them. Three stone steps lead down to the backyard, where warm sunshine filters through the tall pine trees surrounding it, providing light and shade. The sun in my backyard is as warm as the sun at any beach, but without the crowds to wade through and the seagulls to scare away from my ham sandwich, I am able to enjoy it without distraction.
Unlike the beach, when I’m done for the afternoon, I don’t have to clean sand from inside my 1970 burnt amber Dodge Dart. In the center of my garden oasis, a soft, green lawn unfolds. As I step across the lawn, each step is imprinted into the surface. This record of my traverse fades moments later as the grass straightens back to attentioneach blade returning to perfect form. Here the trees part and the sun gives full blessing to the grass, turning the water and nutrients I’ve laid down into a lush carpeting softer than any rug from the Orient.
As with every Saturday, I start by mowing the lawn. The stout aroma of freshly cut grass fills my backyard and will linger there until the morning. Once I finish, I take off my shoes and put them back on the porch, ready for next weekend. I like to walk around in the yard in my bare feet and wiggle my toes in the plush grass I’ve worked hard to nurture. The hummingbirds and chickadees return to my haven from wherever they go when I’m making too much noise for their comfort. I listen to them as I rest for a moment under a large pine near the back fence.
I keep a large glass of ice on the first step up to the porch, and as it melts during the day, I have cold water to drink. This beats a five-dollar bottle of water and a rock-hard bench at the amusement park any day. I spend the rest of the afternoon tending the flowers that decorate the raised beds encircling the lawn. My bare hands sift through the rich, dark soil I brought in one wheelbarrow at a time. The azaleas respond to my care with beautiful fragrances and brilliant colors.
Each rose, marigold, and aster is placed purposefully to affect a masterpiece of color. The African violets are strokes of purple across the canvas of my garden. Stark white daisies create a contrasting border that emphasizes the array of colors within. At the end of the day, I’ve accomplished something that has far greater value than a suntan or a stuffed pink teddy bear. After I’ve washed the soil from my hands and the grass stains from my feet, I sit on the porch and watch the sunset over my backyard, satisfied with another Saturday well spent.