I like quiet. I like to write in an environment so devoid of aural clutter that I can hear the florescent lights in my kitchen (and then turn them off), or–when I’m sitting at my kitchen table–I can hear the stream burbling through my yard fifty feet from the kitchen door. Quiet R Me.
I also like FRESH AIR, and tons of it. My little old (about 170 years old) house has a footprint of maybe 400 square feet. On the ground floor this footprint is punctuated with three doors to the big world, and nine separate windows. I like to open them ALL UP, and be one with the birdies and breezes, while hiding behind my computer or tromping along at my tread desk.
I have always been this way. My mother was this way. Fresh air is a cardinal virtue.
As a voracious reader of fiction, and somebody who has doubtless heard a lawn mower or two, you can see the conflict brewing. My closest neighbor is a farmer, and Dwayne–exceptionally nice, hard-working guy–never met a muffler worth maintaining or an engine that couldn’t be gunned. My other neighbor–Mike, another all around good fella–is yard proud–weed-whacking, leaf-blowing, riding mower wrangling, yard proud.
And my yard requires a lot of maintenance too, being a couple of acres, full of trees, surrounded by nature green in leaf and limb, and dotted with my oddly placed flower beds. For thirty years, I’ve had the same yard guy, and while I valued this man’s contribution to keeping me out of dutch with the weed control officer, I wasn’t so keen on his timing. Eric had the knack of riding up on his zero-turn just as I was sitting down to write a hot scene.
Or a big black moment.
Or the first kiss.
There I’d be, with His Grace of Hunklyness poised to put that taciturn mouth of his to good use offering something other than snappy repartee, and along comes Eric with his Pratt and Whitney UL approved weed-whacker right outside my window. Nary a weed dared remain standing in the face of such determination, and His Grace usually turned tail and ran too.
Eric retired last year, after decades of faithful, uncomplaining, utterly reliable, and conscientious-as-hell service. I wished him well–what else was there to do?–and scrounged around until another mowing service agreed to tame the jungle for a modest fee.
They came once, did a half-assed job. From there, it was no call/no shows, followed by rescheduling texts and more no-shows. My yard began to resemble a vacant lot, and I could hear the mountain getting ready to drag my property back to the wilderness, complete with cat-eating coyotes and Grace-menacing snakes. My house is at best a fixer-upper, and for the yard to go to knee-high weeds was surprisingly hard on my morale.
I don’t put much nevermind on gray hair, extra pounds, or wrinkles, but for my yard to fall apart felt like the forces of chaos were winning.
Eric came to the rescue, got the place in trim, and is lining up a successor who someday might come close to the level of expertise Eric brought to the yard work. The day Eric showed up to do battle with the jewel weed, I heard him fire up his lawnmower, and rejoiced greatly. A sound I had HATED, for years, became the sound of order, of a man’s kindness, of peace and repose in the place where I live and work.
Have you had any changes of perspective like that? Where you saw an old foe in a new and more constructive light? I’ll add three more commenters’ names to my ARC list for A Lady’s Dream Come True.