TALES FROM THE CAVE FAMILY: PUTTING IN THE YARD
A Family in Transit
When your dad works for the government you move around a lot. By the time I was 11, we’d lived in five houses. The move to Dallas made six. Two and a half years later, we moved into this house on Carissa and our vagabond days were over.
There was so much packing and unpacking going on in my life that I don’t have a clear memory of packing up for the move to Carissa, the day of the move or unpacking when we moved in. What I do remember is the yard.
We’d never had a new house of our very own. As we moved, sometimes we’d rent and sometimes we’d buy, but in each of the other places, the yard was already there and my dad was the one who took care of it. Mom’s involvement was limited to an occasional stand of zinnias in the summer. We did have one home where we had room for a garden, but it was a vegetable garden and Dad was in charge of what was planted and harvested. Mom’s only connection to the garden was serving the vegetables with our meals and pickling the cucumbers.
Something odd happened when we moved to Carissa. Mom was suddenly in charge of the yard! Her first priority was to plant the lawn. Back in those days, when you bought a house, that’s what you got, a house. If you wanted a lawn or shrubs or a little seasonal color, that was completely up to the home buyer. Mother went after the yard with a passion and when my mother had a passion, she involved everyone else in her project.
The Piles of Dirt
When we bought 10935 Carissa, the home was surrounded by black gummy clay and if you dug down more than a few inches, you’d hit white limestone. It seemed as if I spent that entire summer spreading dirt. Dad would order up a load of dirt – sometimes it was soil and sometimes it was sand, according to what my mother deemed appropriate. Either way, as soon as it was delivered, the family grabbed up shovels and started spreading it. Well, the girls grabbed shovels. Dad was responsible for transporting the dirt from the pile to the spot where Mom wanted us to spread it.
I have no idea how many loads of dirt we spread that summer. It’s probably the hardest work I’d ever done up until that time and I really didn’t like it at all. There would be a crazy rush to spread the dirt before it rained, but then as soon as we would spread it, Dad would have another truckload delivered at Mom’s request. As a kid, I didn’t understand the finer points of soil management and horticulture, not that I know much more now, but all I saw was the quicker I spread dirt, the more dirt I had to spread.
You would think the last load of dirt would have been cause for celebration, but it was just the beginning of a new phase. Come back next week and I’ll tell you about it.