The backyard Iíll probably never have


Iíve always wondered about having some fruit trees in my yard.

Nothing too significant. A couple of apple trees. Maybe some for peaches. Expand on the thought and add some plants and vines and more for some blueberries and grapes and such. You get the idea. Part of my grand plans for the ultimate surroundings.

It started when I was much younger. Too young to understand why growing lemons and oranges in my yard wasnít too likely to happen in the seasonal climates of a yard in New England. Observant enough to see neighbors with some fruit trees in their yards though, and to go apple picking at local orchards on occasion.

Over the years, the house and yard of my dreams has gone through several changes. Iíve wanted trees, swimming pools, gardens and tennis courts. Iíve debated the beauty of acres of snow and the joys of beachfront access. But a funny thought occurred to me the other dayÖ

The greatest need for me has quietly always been the lawn.

When I was a kid, it was far from uncommon to be barefoot. In fact, I wouldnít be surprised if the weeks of summer that existed between school years found me without shoes on my feet as I often as I was wearing them. And one of the things I recall most from those days was being able to walk around in the grass.

Often it was a safe zone. Concrete and other rough surfaces hurt. The asphalt could be too hot on an August afternoon. (Ouchawkwardstepouchawkwardstepouchawkwardstepouch) But the yard in general was smooth and soft and perfect for bare feet.

The last house Terry and I rented, and then the first house we owned, werenít so kind. It was next to impossible to get the grass to grow evenly. Puffs of dirt clouds often surrounded the lawn mower. Walking without shoes was never a pleasant experience.

Our current home is different. Often on summer days Iíll be outside without shoes on my feet. Iíve walked our property from side to side, front to back, corner to corner without shoes. It isnít quite as common an occurrence as it was in the days of my youth, but extended barefoot strolls do happen.

We have a nice piece of land. Big enough that I tend to the lawn with a ride on mower. And often as Iím driving around, Iíll think about different things. Where to put a shed and how big a garden to set up have been two of the more common considerations.

I donít know how long weíll live at this address. Iíd like to think there are many years ahead of us before we move again. Iím not silly enough to believe that the realities of families and more might not wave a few demands or preferences in front of us sooner than I expect though. Not too soon. But not decades away. Soon enough that planting my own small orchard of apple trees likely wouldnít be worth the effort for me or my family. Soon enough that selecting the right mix and number of blueberry bushes isnít at the front of my plans.

Still, Iím not so certain those big-ticket items of an orange grove surrounding my tennis court and swimming pool are really as important as they were in the future wishes of a wide-eyed child.

In a few months, when the days grow longer and warmer, I will enjoy wandering around the yard again. Barefoot. Perhaps to grab the mail. Perhaps to grab a few vegetables. Often times, itís the unexpected comforts that offer up the kindest surprises.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at