• Cheryl

Country Time: Backyard Oasis

We’re green!

Our county in western Pennsylvania moved into the green phase last Friday, June 5. It concerns me a bit that so many people seem to think this means the pandemic is completely over and there are no restrictions AT ALL anymore, which isn’t the case. Businesses are abiding by the guidelines that have been laid out, but Casey and I are still hesitant - we go shopping when and where we need to, but we don’t plan to eat at a restaurant anytime soon, even with the safety standards.

We so want to take a vacation and are planning to spend a few days at a place we’ve been to up north - it’s remote, comes with its own kitchen, and doesn’t have a lot of people around, so we’re okay with that. It’s basically simply a change of scenery, with no touristy plans to go out and do things, and we’re fine with that. But that still leaves the rest of the summer, of course.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a good look at our backyard. It’s functional, but it’s not exactly the most aesthetically-pleasing place to hang out. But it does have the luxury of its setting: we’re surrounded by fields and woods, and it’s so tranquil and beautiful. There’s no light pollution whatsoever, and it’s incredible on clear nights - so many stars!

I pointed out to Casey that in all likelihood, our own backyard - literally - is going to be our summer vacation oasis, so let’s fix it up. And he agreed.

We have a narrow cement slab of a back porch that has held an unused patio table, a vintage patio chair that came with the farmhouse, and our grill. Casey pressure-washed the porch and the back of the house and shored up the grill so it doesn’t blow off the porch during strong windstorms (it’s already happened twice this year). Then he found a matching patio chair in the barn, as well as a hammock I brought with me, and washed those off, too. He studied the porch roof and figured out where he could install an electrical outlet, and I dug out the old strings of vintage awing lights my family used when we went camping during my childhood in the ‘70s and ‘80s. We’ll string these up around the edge of the porch roof. He also installed a countertop along the wall, where we can either eat ourselves or set out food when we have people over for a cookout, and the patio chairs will fit there. We’ll clear out the overgrown flower bed in front of the porch and put in solar ground lights.

When Casey first moved into the farmhouse five years ago or so, he’d cleared a circle in the grass and surrounded it with rocks he found to create a fire pit. Nearby is an old concrete slab that used to be the old smokehouse, and that’s where he stacks the woodpile. We’ll clear that off and move the old patio table there, with chairs, so we can sit and eat there if we want.

In the side yard, a stone’s throw away, is an old grape arbor that still produces grapes (although I think late frost killed our would-be crop this year). We’ll zigzag twinkle lights across the roof of it to make it pretty, and then string more lights around the trees by the table and around the fire pit to light the backyard. The hammock will be set up near the fire pit, as well as two adirondack chairs we already have.

Next to the back porch is a space just the right size for a hot tub. We’ve been talking about getting one for years. I don’t know whether or not that’ll happen this summer, but whenever it does, it’ll be a great addition.

Even without the hot tub, having the porch and yard cleaned up and made comfortable and inviting will be fantastic. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling it’s going to be quite awhile before we can safely vacation anywhere. As long as we have a nice place here to retreat to, I won’t mind.