Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Backyard with Benefits

I’m enjoying a new, secluded vacation spot this week - my backyard. For the last fourteen years, our backyard has been pure kid territory, but this week, it belongs to me. My 11-year-old daughter, Emma, is off to overnight camp, and my teenager, Nick, has a job! So it’s quiet back there. No kids bouncing on the trampoline, running through the sprinkler or demanding popsicles. With my newfound backyard access, I’ve discovered a few luxurious pastimes that I can’t do anywhere else.

I’ve embraced wanton, shameless sunbathing. Oh, I know all about the dangers of UVA and UVB rays. But I live in Chicago, man, and sometimes a northern girl needs a fix of vitamin D and some genuine, natural color. In my backyard I can put on the ratty bikini that I wouldn’t dare wear to the beach and sprawl on a blanket without worrying about my flabby stomach or razor stubble. Age spots be damned; letting it all hang out in the sunshine is bliss.

Another pursuit I’ve taken up is tacky decorating. I’ve been combing the sale aisles of Marshall’s and TJ Maxx for little treasures to spruce up my favorite new space. Silly, cheesy doodads that are too trashy for the inside of my home look charming and whimsical when dangling from a tree branch. Bird houses, ladybug garden stakes, alligator stepping stones. I’d never appreciated the garden gnome before, but mine looks so cute peeking out from under the rosebush.

Last, I’ve found the joy of something I haven’t really done since I was a kid: daydreaming. It’s not even close to meditation, which I’ve always found to be way too much work. I mean pure daydreaming, staring up the sky and letting my mind flit idly from one inconsequential topic to the next. Why do I only see robins on the ground, never up in trees? Is my right big toe bigger than my left? Would it be wrong to drink a Corona with a slice of lime at 11:30 in the morning?

I’ve only got a few days left of privacy, then my kids will reclaim the backyard along with their lemonade-swilling, soccer ball-kicking, water-squirting pack of friends. But for now, I’m making the most of my daytime retreat. I may even try the trampoline.

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