Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 23, 2004


My backyard beauties attract me more than the swimsuit babes


          When I was a young man, I sneaked a look more than once at the pictures of the gorgeous young women in the centerfold of men’s magazines. Somewhere, along the way, that temptation lost its hold on me. I reckon it has been three months now since I peeked inside one of those magazines.

          (Just kidding, Mama. You know me well enough to know that I gave that habit up many years ago. How many should remain a secret. Life must have its mysteries.)

          What appeals greatly to me in recent years are the beauties in my yard. Beautiful flowers, the care of which has rested mainly on the shoulders of my beautiful bride, surround our home. While recuperating from knee surgery, I enjoyed sipping tea in the shade as I watched Dean tend the flowers. It was fun watching someone work. All I had to do was swat at gnats.

          Now that I am able to walk and work again, Dean keeps me busy outside. She is a plodder. I work in spurts, tiring quickly. After a while, my energy is spent. She plods on, needling me about the myth that men are stronger than women. I have to admit, even with one bad knee Dean can keep on working long after exhaustion has sidelined me.

          Months ago we planted several running rosebushes. This spring they are flourishing. Cow manure will do the trick every time. Thursday we placed three fan-shaped trellises behind the roses. Now we wait for them to show off their beauty by traipsing up the trellises.

          My wife likes rabbits and angels, the stone kind, so in our flower garden she has positioned several of each. They require no care, though I do give them a shower when we water the flowers. Even a stone angel must enjoy a respite from the sun’s heat. Rabbits I am not sure about.

          Wild hydrangeas love our yard. Recently we noticed how beautiful this plant can be, situated all by itself as the center of attention. This prompted us to plant several hydrangeas in the front yard. We plan to nurture them into lovely six-foot tall plants where nothing else will share the spotlight. The Bradford Pear trees nearby will be their only competition.

          Our “real” pear trees are loaded with little pears. The birds and squirrels must be excited as I am. I can already taste some pear preserves. I hope I can harvest more than the squirrels do; those little rascals will eat everything in sight.

          The only thing better than pear preserves is fig preserves, especially if they have some strawberries mixed in. I wish I had my mother’s recipe so we could make some like Mama made. Nothing tastes better in the morning than a hot cathead biscuit swollen with butter and fig preserves. Somebody fry some sausage and scramble some eggs!

          Our Confederate Rose has zoomed up three feet high since March. My wife and I did not know what this plant was until my sister Neva Williams told us. This summer it will be decked with beautiful white blooms that soon turn pink. I wish our neighbors could admire it but it is almost hidden in the backyard.

          Last year we discovered a lovely magazine titled Birds & Blooms. The spring issue is loaded with pictures of flowers, birds, butterflies, and birdhouses. The magazine has no advertising, a delightful feature since most magazines seem so chock full of ads that it is hard to find the articles to read.

          I have always wanted a Martin birdhouse though I am reluctant to pay over a hundred dollars for one. Surely, somewhere, there are Martin houses available for a reasonable price. A Martin house would help me stay outside in late afternoon since Martins love mosquitoes. Those annoying mosquitoes love my blood, but never seem to bother my wife. I tell her she must have bad blood.

          Next year Mama says we will have a vegetable garden with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Some squash and okra would be good too. And maybe some strawberries and cucumbers. I had given up on growing vegetables, but who knows, with Mama in the driver’s seat, the South may rise again!

          Thomas Jefferson once said, “Though an old man, I am but a young gardener.” Did he mean that gardening makes one feel younger? I like to think it does.

          A call from outside reminds me that I must give up this writing enterprise for a spell. Mama needs some help putting the asparagus ferns in some hanging baskets. Stop by sometimes. We have an extra pair of gloves and a hoe that will fit your hands. If you stay long enough, we will sit in the swing, drink pink lemonade, and thank God for our backyard beauties. + + + +