And no. I’m not trying to lure you into a Ponzi scheme!
Many of my readers came along for the ride when we redid our back yard a number of years ago. With the help of landscape architect, Alan Burke from Classic Nursery, we created a garden dedicated to one of my favorite poems, Baucis and Philemon by C. Day-Lewis. Here’s a link to an article complete with photos from the Seattle Times: Author J.A. Jance’s Garden... The poem is actually a love story. In Greek mythology, Baucis and Philemon were an elderly couple who, with the help of the gods, manages to grow old together gracefully.
If you look at the first photo, the one with the columns, you’ll see a glimpse of the landing at the top of the steps that lead down to the lower level of the garden. What you don’t see is a view of the steps themselves. There are twelve of them in all. Due to the lay of the land, they are unevenly spaced with landings here and there along the way. For as long as we’ve lived in this house, and especially after the garden was installed, those steps have scared daylights out of me, and for good reason.
People entering the garden tend to look at the view. They don’t pay attention to their feet, and how do I know this? First hand experience. Early on, I was going down the steps when there was water sitting on one of them. My feet slipped out from under me and down I went. What saved my life was the fact that I had my hair in a scrunchy at the back of my head, and that’s what hit the edge of the step three steps above where I landed. If it hadn’t been for that low-brow hairdo, I would have ended up with a concussion and probably a brain bleed besides. I landed hard enough that the brooch I wear on a chain necklace left a recognizably matching bruise on my collar bone.
After that I became paranoid about going down the steps to feed the fish, especially when it rained. And whenever we had company, I would give everyone a pep talk before they headed down to explore the garden, telling them that ours was a “twelve step garden” and cautioning that they not start looking at the view until they had counted down all twelve of them. Then after issuing the mandatory caution, I always ended up holding my breath until all the guests went home.
I always resented the term dizzy blonde but that was before I became one—at least a dizzy former blonde—because these days I have occasional bouts with vertigo. I can say for a fact, that when a room starts spinning around me, it’s not fun—at all! When we were down in Tucson closing up the house, I had a touch of vertigo which caused me to step onto the patio and then veer into the river rock boundary. I ended up several feet away with my butt on the sidewalk and my head against the side of the house. The skin on the top of my skull head instantly swelled up. After only a momentary discussion we headed off for the ER at Tucson’s Banner Medical Center where I learned the magic word that allows you to jump the ER line—Pradaxa. If you’re on blood thinners, they will take you in much sooner than later.
It turns out I was fine. No concussion. No broken bones. No brain bleed, although the two black eyes that showed up two days later when the swelling went down were really spectacular. And the bill? By the time they finished with CT scans and brain scans, the amount was astonishing. Utterly. Close to fourteen thousand dollars for a four-hour stay—and that’s the discounted price. Let’s just say that hospitals can charge whatever they want because Medicare will pay whatever they charge which, as a former insurance salesman, seems like an unholy arrangement to me.
Having settled on our Seattle house as our place to “grow old gracefully,” we came back from Tucson and decided to make some necessary changes. Top on that list was installing handrails on that flight of steps down into the garden. They’re in now, created by and artisan to match the ones already leading in and out of the house. They’re beautiful.
And what happened the very first time Bill and I used them? He was looking out at the blooming wisteria and ended up missing a step. And our newly installed hand rail saved him. We paid eight-thousand dollars to install those rails and they would have been cost effective at twice the price.
And now, having said that, I really am going down to feed the fish—with a very happy heart.
PS. By the way, now that the Big Guy has emerged from hiding, he’s about eighteen inches long and must weigh between four and five pounds. Big Orange is probably a third as big, but these days they both come out as soon as the food arrives.
And I’m back on the my back porch perch, Nerf Gun at my side, doing heron watch!