Reclaiming the front yard


I’ve lived in my house for decades but 2013 was the year we reclaimed the front yard. Over the years, the front yard had really been the kids’ domain. We had big trees with rope bridges going between them, tree forts, tents and plenty of flat play space. Adults went out there at their own risk.


As they are wont to do, things changed. Two of the biggest tree-fort trees died. The kids grew up, went away to college, and established lives and families out of town. Since the grass was actually now going to have a fighting chance, we re-seeded and added sprinklers. But all this manicured magnificence cost a lot of money for maintenance and water for space that was totally unused. Like most families, both our private and entertaining lives occurred out back. La Jolla homes have become nothing if not bastions.

But then some toddler grandchildren came on the scene. Their folks weren’t too keen about the backyard with its brick patio and pool. My younger son, Henri, lobbied for some comfy lawn chairs so that the adults (that would be him) could sit outside in the grassy front yard and watch the kids play.

I was dubious about the chairs. First, we have no garage to store them when not in use. They would block the sprinklers and we’d be perennially dealing with patches of dead grass. The gardeners would hate them. After a few months in the elements, they’d look awful. But a year ago Christmas, I finally relented and bought two nice lawn chairs that folded up fairly compactly and could be stored on our back porchlet when the kids were not in town.

As Henri was packing up the chairs at the end of a visit last spring, I told him to leave them in the front yard for a while longer. I’d been enjoying reading out there and letting our perennially-visiting grand dog have more space to run around.

The chairs never went back. It was true that the gardeners hated them. They were heavy and hard for me to move. Paint did start to peel in places. Patches of dead grass appeared underneath them. But I found that the happiest part of my day was going outside with my book and communing with nature in my front yard. Sometimes I just brought out the book to look like I was reading so I wouldn’t look like the crazy lady who sits in her lawn chair and stares. You can get a reputation pretty easily in my neighborhood.

Pretty soon, the newly-retired Olof would come out around 5 p.m. and join me with his Kindle in the other chair. If the sun were over the yardarm anywhere within three time zones, we might also have a drink. Living near the beach, we could watch the pelicans flying in formation back and forth along the coast. We couldn’t quite see the sun sink below the horizon but we had an excellent west- facing view of the beautiful sunset sky.



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