chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Tag Archives: patio

fervent…

the hillside…

eucalyptus photo by LRKWe had lived in the house only a year or two when a crack appeared in the slab of the patio, and another, its echo, snaked up the stucco at the back of the house. The untamed portion of the back yard sloped steeply toward the cemetery below and gravity’s work was aided by occasional drenching rains and frequent small earthquakes.

I must have been 4 or 5 when I accompanied my father to the rail yard, where he collected a load of railroad ties for the retaining wall he hoped would hold the house in place. There followed much sweaty digging, which I was not allowed to watch — too dangerous, my mother said — and eventually the hillside was re-shaped. A four-foot-high wall spanned nearly the width of the lot, with tiny plugs of ivy and ice plant stuck into the soil between the ties. Along one side of the property, a new set of steps, also made of railroad ties, led down from the patio to the chain link fence at the bottom of the hill.

It worked. The dramatic settling seemed to stop, the crack in the patio didn’t worsen and, the next summer, my father planted a line of 25 eucalyptus trees alongside the steps, marking the boundary between our yard and the neighbor’s. They were spindly things in five-gallon tubs, hardly bigger around than a girl’s wrist, but they — and my father, for having planted them — were a source of pride, and I remember showing them off to my friends who came to play in the prickly ice plant that soon covered the slope. The trees were beautiful and fragrant and exceedingly messy. But the hillside stayed in place and the trees grew so large that a single pair of hugging arms couldn’t span them…