It was nearly midnight when I arrived home from a long drive, thinking all the while of the hot tub that awaited me – sitting under the stars in our little side yard. As I drove along in the dark, I envisioned slipping into the warm water, letting it envelop me as I slid down up to my neck, feeling the chilly air on my face.
When we moved into our house seven years ago now, there was no hot tub. But, when I’d look out our kitchen window, that’s what I saw. What was there was an area that had been used as a dog run; it was a neglected area full of rocks and tall thorny weeds and an old fence that was barely standing. I would wash dishes and look out, envisioning my yard. Along the new fence would be a narrow planting area for our little garden; we’d put in tomatoes and cucumbers and basil. Then, there would be a small green lawn and flagstones. At the far end would be a curved stone area where the hot tub would sit. I got out a crayon and drew it – and it looked like I’d drawn it with a crayon, but the design was clear. I put it on our refrigerator and every day, I looked at it. The grass, the flagstones, the hot tub.
On the hottest day of the year with temps hitting 106, we had the landscapers come. They hauled out yards and yards of clay. A friend who needed a little cash had come before and taken out most of the thorny weeds and rocks. Little by little, the two men toiled in the sun, leaning back in the shade with glasses of tea for short breaks, until it was all done. They rolled out soft green sections of sod, soaked it down, and rolled it in. Our brown, rocky yard was now a soft green paradise. Michael (or “the kid” as we fondly call him) came and wrestled with the heavy flag stones that we chose so carefully at the quarry, making sure we picked out the prettiest Arizona sandstone color. He was a landscape student and it was a good job for him. The sod filled in along the edges of the stones and we kept it good and wet, as directed, until it took root.
We took the final plunge and attended a half-day seminar when we were ready for our hot tub. We wanted to get the best and we wanted to make sure we knew what we were buying. It was a good experience and our salesman, Brian, was genuine and knowledgeable. He wasn’t pushy and we liked him. Kevin built a nice redwood platform, with steps to make easy access, and then the big truck rolled in with our new custom spa. The water blasted in, cold and clear and we waited anxiously for the temperature to reach its desired 104 degree mark.
Since then, there have been many a night when we tiptoed out across the cool stones to crawl into that warm water and each time, I sit out there, I remember.
On sunny mornings like today, when November dawns chilly and sunny, my beautiful white cat, Kibbie, rolls and suns herself in her very own chair, right there in that little yard. Her fur gleams like snow and she, too, is thankful for her very own place here in my little dream of a yard.
I look down the length of our side yard and I see the stones and the grass and the tomatoes towering over our lovely redwood fence and I remember that crayon drawing. Last night, as I sat under a sky of brilliant stars, so grateful for what we had created, I was given three gifts. I could hear them far up in the sky, just a hint of sound, until soon, they were over my head, still invisible but clearly audible – our Sandhill Cranes migrating south. The next was a big white snowy owl that flew just a few feet over my head, darting across the night sky, clear and bright against the darkness – and then, when things were so good I didn’t think it could get any better, a shooting star streaked through the darkness and I thanked God and made a wish on a star. I made a wish that I can continue to envision my dreams and keep pushing forward until they are reality. I open my big box of 64 Crayola Crayons and I inhale deeply – the possibilities are endless.