Stella comes with some fun habits. She won't do her business while attached to leash, but she won't necessarily come in when called. We don't have a fenced in yard, so this makes things tricky. She was doing better with it, but then the storm door swung shut and scared her and now coming in through the door at all is a tough sell.
The other night she took off and ran through The Crap Garden next door, and it reminded me that I should tell you about The Crap Garden.
The Crap Garden is carved out of the land behind our next door neighbor's house (even though they do not own said land). It's full of oddities: broken clocks, old mailboxes, broom handles stuck in the ground like fence posts. Koosh balls in jars, wind chimes hung from trees, astroturf pathways, bed frame railways, vases stuck on the ends of branches, a life-sized Doberman statue, Jesus encased in half a water cooler bottle, mirrors, shelves pulled from the ends of neighboring driveways on garbage day. All of it is arranged very precicely. And all of it moves and makes noise, and the noises change depending on the season. Few things in life are so creepy as the sound of an iced over pinwheel creaking and spinning in the middle of the night while frozen wind chimes tinkle in the background.
When we first moved here, The Garden Gnomes would bring half the stuff from the garden inside to store for the winter. This year I did not see the massive crap migration, which involves laying all the crap out on the yard and then hauling it into the house in laundry baskets in many many trips. Sadly, I suspect Mr. Gnome has not been feeling well as of late, and this means much of the crap will spend the winter outside, covered in plastic bags and packing tape.
I used to very much not get along with the Gnomes, because every time I tried to do anything in our yard, Mrs. Garden Gnome would come over to tell me I was doing it wrong. Sometimes her points would be valid, but sometimes they wouldn't be. Had she been right all the time, I would have been more tolerant of the situation. The bad advice mixed in with good and tied up with a healthy does of judgment just got me revved up and pissed off. But over the years, we've come to more of an understanding of each other. She seems to respect my efforts in growing some of my own food, even though she's made it known that she doesn't think I weed enough. And I have some malfunction in my brain that reverses the whole "familiarity breeds contempt" thing.
Seeing her out on her hands and knees picking tiny pieces of dead grass out of the lawn, mowing three times a week, or shoveling her driveway at the slightest hint of a flake has endeared her to me. Her penchant for watching me work in the yard from her kitchen window has proved useful, as she's taken it a step further and will often run out to bring me a garden tool to borrow if she feels I'm not using the appropriate one. And over the growing season, we regularly exchanged little packages of our harvested goods by leaving them on each others' back patios. She's given me a lot of good advice as of late, including warning me to pace myself when I work in the garden so I don't get burnt out. So, I have to say that I like her now. I appreciate her. She's a part of this place that's now my home, and I am, at the risk of sounding sappy, grateful for her.
Even The Crap Garden has started to grow on me. Chasing Stella down the garden paths the other night, it seemed less creepy and more magical. The assorted crap glistening by moonlight through a thick dusting of snow, was . . . beautiful. And it is, after all, a fantastic example of recycling.