One of my favourite things to do if I have nothing planned on a Saturday or Sunday morning is to lie out of sight on the front room couch and listen to the children passing by.
We have made a yard suited to us filled with magical beings and the kids see it for what it is. I’m sure a lot of adults in the neighborhood think our yard is tacky or weird but we did it for a reason.
When I was little we had a magical Great Uncle named Uncle Winn and he loved us kids so much and he and my Great Aunt couldn’t have children for some reason so he spent his love on us. He had a gnome with a wheel barrow that he convinced us was moving when we weren’t looking and all of us tried so hard to see him move. He’d convinced my mom and her brother one Christmas Eve that they could here Santa’s reindeer’s bells and my mom swore they had heard them.
For me, he was magic personified and not just because he was a Master Mason of the highest degree but because he saw life as magical. One evening he took me out into the yard to see 3 magic things. He showed me Sputnik crossing the sky at twilight and was patient enough to wait until the half blind kid could find it in the sky, Then he took mw to see a hummingbird’s nest with three tiny eggs in it and if that weren’t enough to throw me over the moon with joy, he took me to meet the great horned owl that sat in a huge pine up the mountain in his back yard. I’ll never forget looking in the eyes of that great solemn wise old being. I’ve cherished that memory for my whole life and he totally coloured how I look at the world.
When we lived in the Valley when I was first going to school, I walked to and from school and there was one yard I had to pass by every day that would make me happy no matter how much I had been bullied that day. An old lady had covered a tree in hanging plastic birds and her yard had all kinds of animals under the big deodar and it was my magic place I never told any one about. When we moved to Glendale I again walked to school by a yard that had cement deer and a series of fish ponds and a big tortoise and birds hung in the trees and it became my magic place to walk by every morning. So when we moved here after my dad died my sister and I decided to make our yard a magic place for us and for the kids in the neighborhood.
We have more than 15 gnomes out of the yard and our fantasy is that this is a retirement center for garden gnomes so none of them has a work implement. We decided that after discovering the first three gnomes we bought quite by accident, carried a bell, a book and a candle. So our gnomes are swinging and teeter-tottering being layabouts. We do have two that are racing rabbits and ladybugs and in honour of my great uncle, the biggest gnome is pushing a wheel barrow but he isn’t working, he’s gardening.
We also have tea light holders of all sorts, a lot of rabbits, a giant acorn, a toad house that is shaped like a pumpkin and various dragonflies and some witches scattered through the tiny yard.
I love to lie on the couch and listen to the steady stream of little kids that are brought to the yard by their nanas and their dad, strangely, very few moms for some reason. One little girl has to say good morning or hello to each gnome she sees. One little girl convinced her little brother that the gnomes changed position every day which led my sister and I to regularly go out after dark and conduct the great gnome move just for her. This morning a little one told their dad that there was dragon poop on the sidewalk. I think it’d beneath where the raven likes to sit in the sycamore.
I love that we have created a place that little kids find as magical as the yards I loved as a kid and that I still find yards today full of magic.