Monday, May 16, 2016

Spring Time on the Alley


Life on the alley continues to involve getting the rental unit ready for a tenant.  Dave gave a first showing to a potential renter.  It seemed like a good fit.  A woman with grown children, who owns a tea room and loves to garden.  We would be more than willing to give her free run of the little yard that was devastated by the French drain project.  She is hesitating because of the noise of the main street.  I was dubious about the same thing when we moved here, but have been happy to discover that it really isn’t that bad, even in the late afternoon/early evening.  We sit above the street behind a chain-link fence. The fact that the alley is a dead end at our end means blessed little traffic.  The folks across the alley from the rental are a quiet youngish couple who do park in back of their house (and hubby does toot goodbye in the mornings, which I find cute).  He owns bikes that he rides on nice days, but his biggest is a quiet Goldwing so it’s not like he’s firing up a Harley at 5 AM.

                Because Amy and I use the ramp at the back of the house and because the dining room and kitchen face that way, I am more oriented toward the alley than the street from which you reach our driveway.  We actually sit above that one, too.  Night owl Dave heard a screaming match down there one night, but our bedroom is on the alley and I heard nothing.  Anyway, because I come and go from the alley and the ramp, which functional, looks a little institutional I decided to start adding some flowers.  It’s hard because there’s essentially no yard.  The French drain guy put down a lot of gravel at the end of the project last summer because his equipment tore up the alley and we knew that when the fall rains came it would be a quagmire.

                It’s also a little tricky because that side of the house faces East.  We get a lot of morning sun and have discovered it can get downright hot of a morning, but the house gets its heat from the direction of the baseball park toward the West.  My experience in our previous home was that the East side is good for fuchsias and impatiens.  I’ve got my fingers crossed over some wonderful smelling purple petunias and a star jasmine.  I had Dave bring my Buddha around from the front of the house.  He balked at first, but like Kevin Costner I told him that if we beautify, the neighbors will as well. 

The house directly across from our house has a wilderness behind it.  A heap of mulch has begun to grow grass, there’s a stack of broken concrete and some lumber.  One afternoon after the Buddha come to rest at the bottom of our ramp, I came home from shopping to find the young couple working in their wilderness.  I had chatted with her over the garbage cans a week or two previously so she waved hello and introduced her husband who said, “We decided that you were making your place look good and that maybe you don’t like looking at our mess.”  He specifically mentioned the Buddha.  After two days they seemed to lose their enthusiasm, but they also have a small child and I was told has an extensive garden behind the fence that faces us.  I want to wangle a look-see!

Dave weeded an old bed that has rhododendrons in it and along which one of the new drains runs.  To keep the mulch from running down the driveway he edged it with cinder-blocks which didn’t look too good, but I had him fill the blocks with potting soil and plant impatiens and petunias in them, about 30 in all, and they look pretty good.  Dave calls it cinder-block chic.   My uncle had a block plant in Greenfield, Missouri.  I would like to think he’d be happy…or at least laugh.

I threw down some wildflower seeds that are supposed to do well in the shade and would be grand if they come up behind the ramp, but I won’t hold my breath.  It’s only our first Spring here and I hope that the place will evolve into a little secret garden here on the alley.  

While I wait for the seeds to sprout, I am working on making my father’s memoir bloom.  Check it out.

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