Tag Archives: yard




I’m up early today, trying to make up for all I didn’t do yesterday.

I don’t set the alarm clock on Sunday morning. I don’t have to be at work until 10:30; sunshine streaming in and the dogs needing out always assure that I’ll be up in time, no matter how late I was up the night before. Not yesterday.

Yesterday morning, the dogs had each made a trip outside before 6AM. I had taken the opportunity – while I was up – to empty my bladder and get a drink of water. The windows were open to a cool breeze; gentle rain was coming down. I was cozy and warm under a heavy comforter, with Rosa Parks curled up at my feet, Darla snoring from her bed close by. A cloudy sky blocked the morning sun. There was nothing to drive me from my bed. I thought of waking up, then let myself drift back into sleep…until I finally reached out to turn the clock around, to get an idea of the time.


I jumped out of bed. First, to the kitchen, to start the coffee brewing. To the bathroom next, where I ran the sink full of hot water for the sponge bath that would have to replace the shower I had planned. Having gone to bed with damp hair the night before, my hair was sticking up in a dozen directions. I wet it down and dried it into what could only be described as “better than before.” I washed, dressed, and brushed my teeth.

I filled two tiny dishes with soft food for the dogs. By that time they had roused themselves, too, and were not-too-enthusiastically considering another trip outside in the rain. “You’ll be fine,” I told them, “stay inside.” I filled my thermos and poured a cup of coffee. As I put down the dogs dishes, I reminded them that this was a short day, and told them to take care of things. Purse, thermos and coffee cup in hand, I was out the door.

Seven and a half miles is the distance to town. When I was considering this property, my Dad said, “That’s an awful long way from town, Cindy.” At that time, I was living outside of North Branch, driving ten miles to bring my daughters to ballet lessons, fifteen to visit my parents, and more than twenty for my classes in Flint, Michigan. Seven miles seemed like nothing…until I moved here.

Gas prices are high. I consolidate trips. I almost never come home and then go back to town, no matter what exciting event is taking place. The roads are, for the most part, unpaved, narrow and curvy, often littered with fallen branches. One must always be on the lookout for wildlife: chipmunks, black squirrels, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer think nothing of crossing the road without warning. So I did think about Dad on Father’s Day, and his sage advice about the long distance from town, as I made my way to work.

It gave me some comfort to have that cup of coffee nearby, though it was much too bumpy a ride to try to get a sip. As I rounded the church hill, I was glad to see Mass was still in session, for the church-goers often make their way to the hardware store as soon as the service is over. I made it to work no more than three minutes late, with customers already waiting at the door. I mixed two cans of paint before I had my coffee, and the day continued busy.

By the time I got home, I was ready for a break. As it was too wet for gardening or yard work, I took the dogs for a short walk. We then convened on the sofa to watch a movie and nap. After that, a drive to Fox Lake and then down to the frog pond. A late dinner completed the day’s theme.

Yesterday, I was behind all day. Today, I’m getting an early start.


Rain Today?



There was talk of rain moving in yesterday. It came, but not until late afternoon. It didn’t last, but the temperature dropped and the wind came up. That, combined with the few sprinkles, was enough to bring me back inside. Today, it’s still up in the air.

Will it rain? The day dawned bright, but the sun is hidden behind a cloudy sky. The air is moist; mosquitoes are out in force. It feels like it is going to rain. If it rains, I have indoor plans that far exceed the hours in this day. There is banking and bill-paying and bookkeeping to do. I am behind in my writing. House-keeping has been neglected except for the bare necessities on busy days that included garden work. I could take an entire day just to catch up! The studio calls to me, with projects underway and ideas in my head. A whole day in the studio would be heavenly!

If it is not going to rain, the yard and garden will have my attention. Yesterday, I placed my newly constructed raised bed in place, lined it with weed barrier, filled it with soil, and transplanted strawberries. I have – after many evenings spent with diagrams, garden books and graph paper – decided where I can fit asparagus and raspberries in my new -smaller – garden. It’s now just a matter of staking out the perimeter and doing the transplanting.

Then, it is more than time to get working in the actual vegetable garden. Though it’s not too late to plant – bean seeds could wait another two weeks here on Beaver Island – it is definitely time, especially for the cool-weather lettuce, spinach, chard and peas. The frequent rains have taken the “fluff” out of my newly tilled garden spot, and allowed the roots of weeds and grasses to take hold once again. It needs to be attended to with hoe and rake, to get it back in shape. Then, the rows could be staked, and many seeds planted.

The grass, as I look out my back window, is more than knee high in places. There have been good days for mowing, that I have chosen garden work instead. There have been many days that I had the time, but the weather didn’t cooperate. There were many long days when I simply didn’t have the energy. It can’t be put off much longer!

So, the only question today, as I pour my third cup of coffee, is “will it rain…or not?”

The Lake House (Outside)

grandma b 001

Grandma B, at the Lake House before I lived there

We moved to the “Lake House” when my daughter was five months old.

I don’t know how I ever managed to figure out when things happened, before I had children. Once I became a mother, all memories of events are in relation to my children’s ages at the time. It’s not a perfect system – it involves quite a bit of figuring out – but it’s do-able. For instance, Jennifer was three when she was the flower girl in my sister Cheryl’s wedding. From that information, I can figure out that I was twenty-three, my mother was forty-three, my brother Ted, twenty-one, sister Sheila, nineteen, Cheryl, eighteen, and on down the line. If I want to do the math, I could come up with the year. I know that my daughter, Kate was three years old when I first moved to Beaver Island and started working at the Shamrock; she was twenty-four when I left that job. My daughters were nine and twelve years old when I got divorced, so I was thirty-two. Ever since they’ve been grown up and are out of my house, things have devolved into “a few years ago,” “sometime in the recent past” or “once.”

Anyway, we moved to the Lake House when Jennifer was five months old. Terry and I were both nineteen; I was two months shy of my twentieth birthday. My in-laws had just bought a nice home on Five Lakes Road, and were moving. They wanted to rent their cottage on Lake Pleasant, and offered it to us. We thought we wanted to be out of town. My husband had spent many years in that house, with his parents and sister, so he knew the area. I’d grown pretty familiar with it, too, in the years since I first met Terry. It wasn’t perfect, but it was within our budget. 920 Martin Drive became our new address.

Martin Drive was one of many short, bumpy roads leading from Bowers Road down to the lake and the homes and cabins near it. Our house was almost at the end of the drive, on the left side. If you continued  past our little house and driveway, there was one more house on the left, and straight ahead was an access point for the lake. It wasn’t quite like a beach, but it was a little nicer than a boat launch. It was used for both. Instead of going straight, you could turn to the right, right in front of our house. There, the road name changed, and led to another little drive which would also take you either down to the water or out to Bowers Road.

Because we were close to the water, there was a slope down to the lake. To keep things fairly level, the yards were terraced. Our driveway was just past the house. a half flight of  cement steps led from the driveway up to the back door. In the other direction, we would step down into our neighbor’s yard.

There was just a tiny sliver of yard on either side of the house, and a postage stamp of lawn in front and back. We stepped up into the front yard from the driveway, too. It was a small space with a big flowering shrub in one front corner, and a hedge of spirea separating it from the road. I hated that prickly spirea hedge, and eventually tore it out. My ideas have changed over the years. If I had that house now, I’d do a lot of things differently. For one, I would definitely keep the hedge!

The house itself was a little lake cottage, over a basement that was accessible only from the outside. Here, we call that a Michigan basement. I wonder if it has another name in other places. The plumbing came up from the basement. That’s where the furnace was, too. And the fuse box. The doors to access the basement were in the back yard, slanted like a lean-to against the rear of the house.. When you pulled them up and laid them open, rough cement steps were revealed. The floor of the basement was damp earth. Cobwebs were plentiful! It looked like the perfect place for all kinds of critters.

Often, in the winter, our driveway was unusable. Then, my husband would park on the road or (once the hedge was gone) in the front yard. As the ground thawed in the springtime, his truck made deep ruts in the yard that we then spent all summer trying to get rid of. It was a constant cycle of tilling, raking and seeding before the next winter put us right back where we’d started.

One year, I tilled up the back of the driveway, and planted a garden. My daughter was just old enough to appreciate the magic of edible plants springing from the earth. She collected worms from the loose soil as I weeded. It was easy to tend and water the garden, right next to the kitchen; we had a bounteous harvest and many special meals featuring our home-grown vegetables.