Mr. Plumbean’s Dream

When we moved into my grandfather’s house a dozen years ago, it was a typical 1950s suburban ranch that looked like all the others on this “neat” street.  Each house was fronted by vast stretches of well-maintained turf grass, with a corral of painfully pruned “foundation plantings.” On the front step, a tidy pot of geraniums with a spike plant in the middle completed the look.

And then we moved in.

We broke the ranch mold by adding a second story to our small house, an addition more than one neighbor called “looming.”

By far the worst offense we committed, though, was when I added this four-foot-tall, cedar

    The bold among you might yawn and say, so?

But this was a subversive fence because it was in the FRONT yard.  And sometimes, we even sit out here. On chairs. Right in the front

Oh, my grandfather's ghost did I catch heat for that.

Our yard breaks the rolling, endless stretch of grass that used to flow from one end of the street to the other. I’d upset the natural order of things.

One day, our elderly next-door neighbor told me I was like Mr. Plumbean.

Who, I asked?

She smiled, and then disappeared into her house. When she came back, she gave me this book, The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. photo

It became a big favorite with my kids over the years.  The book’s message isn’t go out and annoy your stuffy neighbors, but that by making your dreams real, you encourage others to do the same.  Now that’s subversive. photoI’m glad I followed my dream to create a secluded garden in my front yard.

That’s probably not your dream, nor was it the dream of my elderly neighbors.

Your dreams are your own.

I only urge you to give life to them, whatever they may be.

Who knows, maybe one day someone will call you the Mr. Plumbean of your street.

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