Right now, it's 8 pm, I'm sitting in my living room, right next to my bay window, as a torrential downpour drenches the world outside. I love this. I love the cooling breeze after a hot day, I love the sound of the rain, I love watching the ditch in front of my house turn into a river. I love it that the house I bought in a subdivision has a ditch and gravel shoulder out front instead of a sidewalk. (Not so good for kids walking to school, but in the 50s when this was all new, I guess people didn't drive like frickin maniacs...)
Another thing I love about a big fat rain storm is the effect on my garden. We've had lots of rain this year, and as a result I'm surrounded by big fat green plants. My gardens have made me so happy this year! At least once a day I'm out there planting things and pulling weeds and clipping things that are too bushy. For me, it's gotta be really outta control before I get rid of it or trim it. I like plants to be slightly wild looking, just barely contained.
I'm also famously tight with the cash. Most of my perennials weren't bought, but were divided and transplanted from stuff that came with the house. I've traded a few with neighbours, taken extra unwanted plants, and moved stuff around. I never pass up a free plant. I'm not even done yet this year.
My favourite free thing of all is... horse manure! Lucky for me, my parents live with two of the manure producers. Did you know that the average horse poops out forty lbs of manure each day???? Good thing it shrinks when it composts. My ol man loves to compost. He has three piles going out behind the garage. The oldest pile is black, the newer piles lighter. Each year, he moves each pile a few feet forward then later, moves it back. It gets nicely broken up this way. He goes at it like a professional. He thinks the horses are great because they're a source of the material that turns into compost. He says he'd have an elephant if it would fit in the barn.
Thing is I think he's serious.
Problem is, I can't always fit a bag of lovely unscented three year old composted horse droppings into the little VW once I've packed in Jethro, (he's a big guy after all) the two kids (who are getting longer) the Pug (I mean, he's massive y'know) the cat in his Pet Taxi, a few pairs of riding boots, a suitcase and two knapsacks, a bag of dog food and my giant purse. The car is full.
Dad hasn't been up to my place with his truck in some time either. But I'm not s**t outta luck, no way! I have a friend with horses! This year, there are 4 of the big hooved poopers! Believe me, they need to get some crap outta there.
I got the man of the house to dump two Kubota sized bucket loads into the truck box.
That was on Sunday. It's Thursday evening and I've got maybe half a wheelbarrow load left. It'll be gone by tomorrow at noon, I'm thinking. I've got one more flowerbed to fix up and then it's just filling in some ugly spots here and there. Man, I love a big load of three year old composted horse manure. It's like black gold. Wonderful, wonderful stuff!
I think town lot gardening is different from country gardening. I tried to do the big traditional rectangular garden, with straight rows, in my back yard when we first moved here. Because of our mature trees, which I do not ever wish to complain about, the garden didn't do as well as I planned. The most consistent sun lands on the front yard, so that's where I plant my vegetables. They're all tucked in among the perennial flowers that come up year after year, and the bright coloured annuals that I count out my nickels and dimes at the garden centre for. I have tomatoes in cages surrounded by yellow marigolds and peonies. The peppers are tucked in beside the shasta daisies and the lilies. Petunias poke their velvety faces up everywhere else.
Sometimes I wander around in my front yard, just soaking up the colours, shades of green, spiky shapes beside round shapes beside scalloped edges. There have been times when I couldn't even get up the ambition to admire what grew in the spring despite my apathy. Plants don't care when you get depressed. They just want sun and rain and somebody to pull out those pesky weeds taking up all the room.
The kids get to go wild in the backyard, and they do. They've dug a pit a few feet in front of the shed. Whatever. They spraypainted a stick figure on a scrap of plywood, propped it up against the shed wall on a stump, and called it the "Men's Washroom" and I don't even care. Today, on the last day of school/ first day of summer, I took mine plus my neighbour's boys out in the truck to scrounge for some free pallets to build a fort out of. Hey man, let the kids have fun. Build an obstacle course. Build a castle. Go nuts.
Just stay the heck out of my front yard. I will tan your buttery hide if you step on my flowerbeds, so help me Sam Hill. Watch your step, punks.
The best part is, I made a new flowerbed in front of the shed to plant my free daisies and black-eyed-Susans. Free flowers? That demands some digging. All the kids were like, "Cool! The Crappy Tin Shed looks nice now!"
"You know why it looks nice?" I prompted them. "Because the Crappy Tin Shed is surrounded by Horse Crap!" We laughed uproariously. Even the neighbour's kids. We'll make farmers out of them yet!
I got a free dog house for the Pug too. I think it might have been a rabbit hutch, but he runs like a rabbit so I figure it's okay. Bucky and I crowbarred the front wall off, and next we plan to rip those nasty shingles off the roof. Actually we want to rip off the roof and put a proper pointy roof on. And then set it under a tree. Not where all the composted horse manure is, though. I do have my limits.
Ah, the rain has stopped. I must get busy. The first day of summer in my neck of the subdivision meant four kids running through the house with and without shoes on the dirty feet. I need to clean up before bed while mine are at the piano lessons. I want to fall asleep tonight listening the tree outside my window dripping with leftover raindrops...