The backyard shed was cleaned out last spring, but ruin and disorder had made a jumble of its contents again. On Sunday I waded in to set things right, and herewith is an account of the shed’s mysterious contents:
• Enough grass seed for an 18-hole golf course. And that’s just what spilled out of the bags. The mice had gotten in. Or maybe birds; they like seeds. Probably nocturnal nonmigratory parrots or something.
• A length of hose so short it connected to a sprinkler reel or was left behind by a bad cop who’d conducted an interrogation in the shed.
• Tiki torches. Why? No pig skeleton, so we didn’t have a luau. Ah: We got them for their citronella power, which drives away mosquitoes — if you pour the oil on yourself and use the tiki torch to set yourself on fire.
• Poison. Lots of poison. Every year, it seems, I buy a jug of Death Juice, complete with the cool pistol that lets you walk around the lawn, hosing the clover. It was all expired, which makes me wonder if it’s less poisonous, or more. You see a can of beans that says “Best by Aug 23 2001” and you figure it’s the bullet train to Botulism City, but maybe by now the poison just gives the weeds a headache.
• Wood chips for a chiminea — a type of outdoor fireplace that yields no heat whatsoever, but if you put in fragrant wood, everyone on the block has no choice but to smell it. It’s popular with people who pour cologne down their shirt before getting on the elevator.
• A box of damp fireworks waiting to make an appearance in a popular YouTube video that begins with the words “I wonder if they’ll dry out if we put them in the microwave” and ends with aerial footage from a TV news helicopter.
• More poison, this time for poison ivy. We’ve never had poison ivy. And wouldn’t poisoning poison ivy just encourage it?
• A croquet set, used once; no one knew how to play. One look at the instructions and you realize why our ancestors said, “To hell with this, let’s invent baseball.”
• A strange green metal pole with two prongs on the bottom and a perpendicular rod on top. I knew what it was. Fifteen years ago when Daughter had a little plastic house in the backyard, the pole held a flag with a picture of a butterfly.
The flag and house are long gone; Daughter is a year away from college. This one simple piece of metal in the back of the shed brought back a long ago time when she rambled around the yard in a sundress, examining bugs, arranging Hello Kitty friends in the plastic house.
Fireworks and poison lose power over time, but a memory of summer? Never.