I was driving through, shall we say, an economically challenged neighborhood the other day and had to wonder what in hell the residents were thinking. Does being poor mean tossing out good taste? Does it carry with it some irrational urge to not only save everything but to put it all out in the yard? Every other house it seemed had junk piled around it, lawn furniture and other “goodies” front and center for all to see.
And when I say “junk” I mean “junk”. Old toilets. Piles of lumber. Car parts. Furniture that should long ago have been taken to the dump. And every now and then, evidence that someone had actually tried to make the place feel homey. A sprinkling of flowers….a few pieces of “lawn art”…a birdbath.
I don’t understand it. Do these folks reason with themselves “we’ll use that old toilet for something one day!”? or, “Ain’t no point throwing away all that busted up lumber! It might come in handy!”. And why in hell would you have your lawn furniture sitting out there with it all? “Merle! Lets go sit out there and look at that pile of car fenders! Whatcha say?”
Then I realized…I grew up in just such a yard!! Well, maybe not quite that bad…but certainly one that stretched the limits of good taste. I blame it on my mom. It was her who put the picnic table, complete with floral umbrella, in the FRONT yard. It was her idea to put the Little Tykes play house on an axis with the front door. It was her who painted everything “redwood”, who decided that some sort of wooden hitching post was the perfect place to hang a pot of begonias. When we got a trampoline, where did it go? The FRONT yard!! Madness! And we weren’t even poor, so this phenomena can’t be laid solely at the feet of those living on meager incomes. (granted, mom and her husband had no clue how to manage money, or what it should be spent on, but they had plenty of it)
And since leaving home, mom has only made it worse. The poorer she gets, the more a spectacle her home becomes. At some point she found an old claw foot tub, and in a moment of shear genius decided it would make a lovely flower bed! It’s right underneath that redwood hitching post. She further decided that the beautiful maple tree in the front yard just wouldn’t be complete without two dozen potted plants sitting around it. (Why not just plant them in the ground??). And those two dozen potted plants are perfectly accented with a piece of driftwood and a large chunk of coal. Nearby, the satellite dish, long ago shut off, is complimented by more potted flowers! Sprinkled throughout are dollar store statues of angels and puppy dogs, a few plastic stones embossed with inspirational sayings, and the requisite “fat lady bending over”.
The flowers and bushes she has are all fine in and of themselves, but they are scattered about with no apparent thought given to their arrangement. The lack of planning makes it impossible to distinguish if something is a weed or a prized specimen.
While there is a perfectly good deck on the back of the house, overlooking a rear yard that is both private and complimented by beautiful flowering dogwood trees, Mom has decided that it is the FRONT yard where the rusty wrought iron patio set and collection of mismatched and faded plastic resin chairs belong.
Lest anyone be tempted to enter this stunning property, and abscond with any of the treasures within, bright “NO TRESPASSING” signs fend off intruders from every corner. (Another item that seems to be a favorite of the economically disadvantaged, as if trespassers are somehow drawn to such spectacles of bad taste). And should anyone wish to direct their motorcar down the gravel and asphalt driveway, they’ll first need to “open the gate” (also known as untying the chain, complete with “no trespassing” sign, that stretches between two mildewed wooden posts). One must take their security seriously when they serve as Baroness of a White Trash estate!
Why Architectural Digest hasn’t come to photograph her beautiful gardens we may never know. It’s likely that they showed up, and confusing them for a bill collector, she set the dog loose. (Another requirement of a white trash estate seems to be a loud dog that is chained within view of the front door).