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Monday, March 30, 2009

Yard Work Report: Feels like Italy...

In quite possibly one of the goofiest things I have done in my life, I built a beach in the side yard of the villa we lived in when we were stationed in Italy. I know, how did I get the water there? Fair question.

The truth is, when we lived in Italy back in the late 80's, the coolness of living in Italy just hadn't sunk in for me. Not unlike when I lived just north of London and dreamed instead of being back in Florida, I came up with different ways to transform the place that I was, to the place that I wanted it to be. This is common, isn't it?

So we lived in this villa, a property behind the Hotel Carbrun that had a one car garage, but the fact that I had a truck combined with an extremely tight turn to make over the patio made it impossible to even consider parking inside. We used that garage to house a washer and dryer and a bunch of empty stereo boxes. Unlike today, we didn't have enough junk to fill up a house, thus, the garage wasn't needed to hold our overload of junk like it is today.

Back to the beach. I had probably just seen Top Gun for the tenth or so time and came to the conclusion that we needed a volley ball court in our yard. Plus, why should I have to pack my family up and drive the full three miles to the beach, when, if I was going to get some sand to build a volley ball court, I could just get some more sand and build a beach, suitable for sitting there and looking at the sand fleas?

And so I drove my Chevy Luv pick-up truck back and forth between our villa and the beach just down the road probably five or six times until I had, one shovel and one truckload of sand at a time, enough sand to transform the driveway that made up the side of my villa into a beach.

Being a shift worker, it was not uncommon to see me laying out in the blazing sun on a hot summer morning with Armed Forces Radio playing in the background while sipping a tall Peroni, not embarrassed at all that it wasn't five o'clock there, or even close to noon. Good times. And I don't think I ever got a tan; just drunk.

The volley ball court built on my beach was a hit with co-workers, and Americans gathered at our villa often. We hosted parties and dinners and cookouts and we taught local Italians how to make chili and even, gasp, grill corn on the cob. And they ate it!

I loved that little beach because when I went through all the effort to make it, I was thinking of Whitney Beach in Florida. When it was finished and my friends and neighbors and wife and kid enjoyed it, it was simply, home.

One of the things we love about our backyard here in Silver Creek, is that we can sit back on the deck and look beyond our yard into the trees and see a vision of Garner State Park. It takes little or no imagination to narrow your vision to exclude the privacy fences and sheds and swing sets, and look directly into the trees and see the birds, squirrels and the occasional possum. If we only had a small river...
So Sunday as we did some work on the side of the yard that was once a vast wasteland of weeds and dirt, I took a break from pulling new weeds from the flower bed we have created and sat down on the deck, sun in my eyes watching my wife continue to work in the garden. For just a moment or two, with the sound of the radio in the background, I could feel myself, if only briefly, back on that little transformed piece of driveway that was too narrow to pull a truck into. No sand and no volley ball net, but the feeling was just the same.The sun that hits you in the eyes here in Texas is the same sun that will heat you up in Italy or attempt to peer through the clouds in England, or anywhere else you happen to be. I know. With observation skills like that, I ought to be consulting heads of states everywhere. But the point is, It doesn't take much to adapt the place you live, into the place you want it to be. It is funny to me that as I sat on my little deck in Texas, I was fondly thinking of a place I was trying to escape so many years ago.


Albatross said...

Great post. Thanks.

brenty said...

Ahh! Glad to see you enjoying the 'grass is greener' in Texas.

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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