What a week. It started out slow, stumbling out of bed on Monday morning. In a fog from the late news from Pakistan, and stiff from two days of weeding beds, planting shrubs and spreading mulch. We have family coming for Mother's Day and we used their visit as a catalyst to address some neglect in our yard. The timing of this spring clean up was a little faulty. Both kids were scheduled to be out all Saturday, so our labor force was cut in half. One child was on his final Confirmation retreat and the other was at her first Bat Mitzvah. These coinciding events make our children sound spiritual, which in one case in particular, is suspect. However, they and their friends are at an age of exploration and I'm just thankful a higher power is in that mix! And, honestly, the energy it takes to request, then demand and finally to beg for their participation in household endeavors can be equal to that which is expended in going it alone. This knowledge, coupled with seeing each of them transformed by the requisite attire for their events, gave me an unfounded confidence in their character development. The fact that I read somewhere that Charlie Sheen was a preppy clotheshorse in high school, had no bearing on the impression my buffed up teens' made on me. They even were wearing shoes -- not a cleat, flip flop or sneaker to be seen.
By Sunday evening, the yard looked dramatically better. The mulch had a transformative power, just like a dress or a collared shirt did for the kids. I found myself wishing I could extend its magic to our basement -- covering all debris from sleepovers, and their essential late-night snacks, with a fragrant carpet of aged hemlock. My husband and I lit a celebratory blaze in the fire pit and relished the fruits of our labor. Advil and adrenaline were masking the physical impact of pulling up weeds, planting perennials and moving mulch. That's when I got a little too ambitious. For the past 13 years, the focal point of our modest backyard has been a Child Life swing set, complete with an elevated fort. After sprucing up the yard, it really stood out as an eyesore. Visions of a swing-set free landscape took hold. We could use more unobstructed space for the cousins and dogs to run around Mothers' Day weekend, I reasoned. Our children, for whom the swing set was installed, now were well-dressed, young adults, busy searching their souls for spiritual meaning. It was time. So I went on Craigslist and offered up the swing set to anyone willing to come and take it away. There was a flurry of interest. I chose the responder who asked the most detailed questions and we made a plan for Tuesday. This plan required that I drop my daughter to school early, rearrange work, miss yoga and a speaker on parenting, but I could see an unblemished yard in my future and it was worth it.
Yesterday dawned with the threat of rain, but I was undeterred. When it was an hour beyond the stated start time for the dismantling, and no one had showed up, my confidence wavered. Then an email arrived with an apology and an assurance that the swing set folks would come within the hour. My spirits soared. Two and half hours after that, a young man the size of Dustin Pedroia stood alone at the door, smoking an incongruously long cigar. Behind him, I could see his car. It was a shade smaller than my RAV 4; its roof rack was reinforced with a couple of two by fours and a coil of rope lay optimistically in between. Again, my faith in a positive outcome flagged. He removed his cigar, smiled and shook my hand enthusiastically. He was undaunted. I was prepared to believe again. The sun was out. The sound of an electric screwdriver echoed through the garage as I left for work. Worst case, I thought blithely, it will take two days instead of one. No problem. It was Tuesday and there was plenty of time to complete the process before the houseguests were due.
Right now, I'm not sure three days was enough of a buffer between de-installation and incoming houseguests. There is a large fort killing a few square feet of grass in the middle of the lawn. Along side it, several signature green supports and a mound of hardware suggest only a brief intermission to the disassembly of this iconic childhood structure. But I know better. Apparently, the rest of the hardware is irrevocably rusted in place. The young man's enthusiasm evaporated quickly and he's out. My husband, who never really bought into this plan, is traveling this week. Between soccer practices, a track meet and an evening board meeting, I haven't found the right time to fully brief him on its current status. What I need is a swift swing set solution. It's amazing how two hours of relatively unproductive effort could render two days of yard restoration virtually unnoticeable. Readers, I welcome any and all suggestions. I'm afraid no amount of mulch can cover up this little Craigslist debacle. Anyone?