Lookin’ Out My Back Door

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”


Three words compounded into one. I wrote it how I say it. Roll it off my tongue. Reminds me of the way Dad would say it when things didn’t go his way. He didn’t plan much. He went by the seat of his pants. He never really committed to anything because he is one of those people that is good at pretty much anything. But, when real life didn’t look like the picture he had in his mind, he would shake his head and say that word that is really three words.

It’s not God’s fault. I don’t imagine my yard is part of His Divine Plan. And it’s not like I even believe in God. Even if I did believe in God, if my yard was part of His plan, if a prayer from me would make it look like I want it to in my head, He would certainly lose all his credibility. That being said, I still like the word. Even if I don’t believe in God, the word has great meaning for me. Which is kind of funny, when you think about it.

I spent summers working for Dad when he owned a landscaping company. I can remember two particular events very clearly.

One, was having to take a gas mower and a red jerry can of gas, to a townhouse complex he won the contract for. These were houses that had a patch of grass that measured three feet wide by maybe eight feet deep. Barely enough for two passes with the lawnmower. Dad came by after the first hour.

“Goddamnit,” he said. “Look at that.”

I had finished maybe a dozen houses, pushing my mower, up, shifting it over, and pulling it back, turning off the mower, taking the mower across the pebbled asphalt – I can still see that grey pavement fleck with tiny stones – I don’t think I ever saw black pavement until I was in my late teens, until after we moved out of the city. I once thought to save time by keeping the mower running between houses, but after I tried to drag the running mower over the curb and the horrifying scraping and chipping noise that came when the mower blade bit into the curb that went around that small patch of grass, I shut my mower off after each lawn.

“You did them all wrong,” he said.

Because I had done only two passes and did not overlap the mower, there was a rooster comb in between them. He made me go back and do them.

The second event involved a fifty foot coil of thick rope and a Flymo. The yellow rope had turned grungy yellow with age and I couldn’t touch it with my bare hands. The Flymo was a wheel-less lawnmower. I also had a red jerry can of gas for this event. The job involved cutting a half bowl of grass, thirty feet high and about hundred feet around. It served as a football field for some team. I had to stand at the top of this bowl, with the rope tied to the handle of the Flymo, and lower the mower down this 75 degree slope to cut the grass, and then drag it up again.

After the first hour, he came by in his truck. “Goddamnit,” he said. “What’s taking so long?”

I took three times as long to finish it as any of his other employees normally took but I think I was twelve or thirteen at the time. I finished it. And I never cut the bowl again.

What do I see when I look outside my back door?

I see green grass that my wife cuts religiously. I’m rarely home early enough from work to get to it and I almost never want to do it on the weekends.

I see grass that I hope is green from intermittent springs and falls of dumping a couple of yards of top soil down at a time but I’m sure has more to do with luck.

I see a simple patio, made of basic stones, the spaces between the stones filthy with weeds I’ve attacked with everything from expensive chemicals to potions made from recipes downloaded from he internet. We have lawn furniture – a donation from my wife’s parents, my in-laws. We don’t eat outside much in the summer because it’s way too hot these days. In the fall mostly. I like how the sun sets and the colour it makes the sky. I’ve always wanted to plan a tree right in the middle of the yard, watch it grow year by year.

I see have a barbecue that I find any reason to cook on. I like the look on my wife’s face when she really enjoys what I make. I work between trying something new and sticking with what I know she likes.

“Goddamnit,” I think to myself. “I’m lucky. And I’ve got a lot of goddamned work left to do.”

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