I remember the really hot days in our huge backyard. Some summers we had a slip and slide, some summers we had enough clean mud (clean mud has no rocks or bricks or pesky grass to impede your slide). One summer we had garbage bags at the end of a metal slide, we must have had that hose running down the slide and into the mud-pool for hours. I know we started with the sun up, and ended when the sun was down. Our back yard served as a mini ball field, playground, festival grounds, and parking lot in the summer.
The small cement platform in front of the detached garage was a basketball key. My cousin and his friends used to build ramps in the backyard to launch their BMX’s. In my memory, they launched those bikes as high as the rotten apple tree in the corner of the yard. Those apples were born rotten and grew that way and until they were swatted like baseballs over the fence and into the street. I’m sure there is a metaphor for the rest of this story somehow. I remember having bitten one or two-to no avail. That huge backyard also had a metal woodshed in the other back corner, and it was always full of wood. For a decade it was full of wood. I know we had a chimney in the house, it protruded from the roof, announcing the house’s age and tradition. Any fireplaces there once were had long been removed before they were ingrained in my memory. I remember all that wood being removed at one point as well. Bicycles being were then stored in it. The huge garage had become an unfit place for them.
That garage was half automotive laboratory and half butcher shop. There were auto body parts and evidence of carnage and engine torture devices hanging from the walls. Pools of oil from poor cars -I seem to remember at least two orange tanked Triumphs- being subjected to mediocre auto craftsmanship. The butcher shop half, was lined with wipe-clean white plastic panelling, and had been used for butchering at one point. This at least was the explanation given when the dogs would dig up jaw bones from the “dog area.” This was the off-limits area between the two sheds, where the dogs would often do their business. The slip and slides and mud pits would certainly not be set up there. Any balls, kicked batted, or bounced, would be declared foul. It was certainly the potential condition when they had been retrieved.
All of this comes back to me as I wound up the garden hose today. I smelled that warm rubbery water that used to be just fine and acceptable to live on from April until September.