Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Patch Of Ground

That sun's gonna' shine in my backyard some day.

Jim Kweskin
Hello Teresa
In New York City, as I'm sure in other cities, there are abodes known as "Garden Apartments." In New York they are ground floor apartments with a plot of land at the back. The plots in Manhattan are quite small, four giant steps will take you across one, and they have fences or walls at the edges to separate your plot from your neighbor's plot next door.

What people do with these plots are as varied as there are people living with them and they tend to express the character of those people. I was lucky. The man who lived on the ground floor of my building on West 75th Street had a small tree and a nice array of flowers growing in his. I was on the third floor and my place had a terrace in the back, so I could look down on his garden.

The man who lived across from us, on the 76th Street side, only grew grass in his. And once a week he would mow it with a mammoth lawn mower which made an unimaginable noise. He didn't care how much it disturbed his neighbors.

There were interesting stories about some of the other backyards in Manhattan. One man built a shed and kept a goat. He fed and took care of the goat and it would sometimes come out of the shed and eat whatever was growing in the plot of ground. I knew a couple who built a large cage with a roof and kept two wild bobcats in there. In the early days of the NY State Lottery, the first city resident to win it said he was going to retire, put in a tomato patch and tend it. There was another resident who used the plot as a dump. He had nothing going on in there but weeds and trash. And there are some who are struggling to do well enough to turn their tiny plots of land into something nice, someday.

There are almost no alleys in New York, so those buildings abut each other and if you drove or walked down one of those streets you would see the facades of apartment buildings that looked in good shape, with several floors of windows and evidence of people living there, but you would have no idea what was in the backyard.

If you walk down any city street you can see people going one way or the other, some dressed in suits or skirts on their way to an office, some in workman's clothes, maybe a few carrying musical instruments. When you get to your own job you will see associates, colleagues, customers, representatives and others. In almost every case what you see are facades, the public faces, the professional covers of the books of their lives. And you cannot tell what actions, events, worries, griefs, gripes, mysteries and secrets are hidden away behind those facades.

Are they the confident, contented life of flowers and trees, the desperate noise of callous egotism, some sort of bestiality, a simple life of a tomato patch, a life of ruins or a struggle to make a good and happy life, someday?

DB - The Vagabond
(Never Give Up)

What event over the past year changed your life, a lot or a little?

Only 5 answers so far.

I await your answers.


pacifica62 said...

I always made the effort to separate my private life from my working life. I never asked my coworkers about what went on at home, and likewise they did not ask me. Strictly a professional relationship which worked well for all involved. Most of us were long time employees as well and we probably spent more time with each other than our own families. But that separation remained and few tried to change it.

Sue said...

I like this phrase. "the professional covers of the books of their lives."

Another good one. Thanks