Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Couple of Fifth Anniversaries


Five years ago today we moved into our retirement home. Compared to the forty-year-old, 12'x60' trailer we'd been living in on Mom's farm for thirteen years, this double-wide seemed palatial. It took me awhile before this place began feeling like 'home', but it does now. Five years have gone by very quickly. (Picture from March, 2010 when I got my 'new' car. Most of the pictures I take are from the back of the house.)


Thinking about the fifth anniversary living here made me think about our fifth wedding anniversary (23 years ago). I wanted to give Bud something special. The traditional gift for a fifth anniversary is wood, but I couldn't come up with any ideas for anything I thought was extra special. Then I found this bronze* sundial. With the first lines of a Robert Browning poem** on it, I knew it was perfect. Ours was a mid-life marriage so the words from the poem, "Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, (the last of life, for which the first was made") seemed very significant.
The only problem with the gift was, what to do with it? What to mount it on? Where to place it? That problem was solved on a "junking expedition" during Valley Junction's clean-up week. Once a year residents could put just about anything out on the curb and the city of West Des Moines would haul it off. People would come from all over, cruising up and down the streets, picking up 'treasures'. (One man's trash is another man's treasure".) We would put our trash out on the curb and then join the circus parade looking for treasures.


I was always looking for anything I could use in our back yard - the stand portions of bird baths after the bowl parts had been broken, building materials, concrete statues. And that is what we found - a concrete cupid, perfect to mount the sundial on which is what Bud did. In this picture of what our back yard looked like as the Flood of '93 was receding, you can just see the top of the sundial in the middle of the picture.


When we started planning our move back to the farm in SW Iowa, Bud said, "I suppose you want to take that 'Little Boy' with us?" He just loved moving that concrete for me. Not only was the statue concrete, it had a square concrete base which the previous owner had cemented into a chunk of concrete. It wasn't going anywhere without some muscle. I didn't know for sure where I wanted anything placed in our huge new yard at Orchard Prairie. So the sun dial got plunked down right in the middle. I envisioned the area around it becoming a labyrinth or an extensive flower bed. That never happened. The poor 'Little Boy' stood out there all alone all the years we lived there.


He was about half way between our weeping willow and a butterfly bush and some other flowers under a volunteer locust tree - telling the hours during the day and being visited by racoons during the night.


And now he graces the border of flowers next to our patio. He's been re-painted a time or two and the gnomon on the sundial had to be re-attached. I plant different flowers around the base to supplement the ones that were already here. And the sundial itself is beginning to verdigris nicely.


The all-time favorite of the flowers I planted was this Hyssop which grew so much the second year that it almost completely covered up the sundial and its holder. When we moved here, the previous owner had left a bird bath. I wonder if our 'Little Boy' has found his forever home or will someone in the family want him when we're gone? Someone with muscle.

* Bronze is traditional for an 8th anniversary.

** From Browning's Rabbi Ben Ezra poem

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