Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meet the Empty Lot--And My Pipe Dream




The empty lot across the street has been on my mind.
A LOT. (no pun intended, promise ;) )

I wake up each morning and gaze at it out the front windows. It directly faces my house. It's a 50 x 125 ft piece of empty green lawn. It's nice to look at when I'm feeling crowded and claustrophobic--but it's starting to become something much bigger, much different, inside my mind. I'm beginning to see it as potential, a precious piece of land that could be doing so much more than looking empty.

It is owned by Edna, the elderly woman who lives in the house next to the lot. She had once told me that she and her husband bought the lot for 6 thousand dollars, but I'm not sure when that was. She was adamant that no one would buy the lot and try to squash a house onto it, which is what had happened to a few other empty lots along our street. I agreed with her; a house would look crowded there, and I was impressed by her take-charge kind of attitude--"No one's building a house here, and I will make sure of it; I'll buy the damn lot."

When the Joneses lived across the street on the other side of the empty lot, it wasn't rare to see kids there practicing football tosses (yes, we really did have neighbors named the Joneses--and no, we did not try to keep up with them). My own kids have run over there to try and fly kites once or twice, or to kick a soccer ball around. But for the most part, the lot does nothing but sit, empty.

Since I started my teeny-tiny garden next to our house, and have begun to read all kinds of books about growing and preserving food, my daydreams have begun to spiral into a kind of obsession. I feel so strongly that I NEED space, NEED a real piece of land to start tending. My backyard is tiny and for the time-being off-limits, since we use it as a playspace for the daycare. I'm not brave enough to plant a garden in the front yard, and it's shady, anyway.

This large, open, sunny, albeit somewhat sloping-toward-the-back piece of earth has become a sort of pipe dream for me, and I stare at it hard, picturing all the things I could do. Raised beds, regular beds, fruit trees, berry bushes, trellises, some kind of mini-greenhouse, a little shed with rain barrels. I've even dreamed of a little gazebo and winding paths trailing through the various gardens.

Sometimes I daydream about the empty lot so longingly that I get an ache in my veins. That kind of ache you get when you're infatuated with something and find yourself thinking about it at the most random moments during the day...sometimes to get you through the day.

If we are to stay in this house and neighborhood for the long-term, I desperately want a place to start living out some dreams, and that empty lot seems to beckon to me more and more loudly each day.

Would Edna sell it? I have no clue. She's a very intimidating old lady, and I rarely even talk to her (and as she's gotten older I see her less and less). I have a strong feeling she'd be abhorred by the idea of selling it to me. Even less likely seems the possibility that I could just set up a garden there without purchasing it. What about renting it? I don't know. I have a strong urge to need to own it, and do with it what I want, without worrying about Edna looking out at what I'm doing, shaking her head and clucking her tongue. I could assure her I'd never build a house on it, if that's all she's worried about. Perhaps she'd like to see gardens on the lot; I really don't know. I know so very little about my own neighbor, which is sad, but so common. I'd try to make it beautiful, because I'm definitely not interested in creating a neighborhood eyesore. I'd work hard to make it a useful and yet a pleasing place. I'd offer Edna whatever fresh produce she might want. I'd even can and freeze stuff for her if she'd want it.

Wait...Shouldn't I be saying all of this to Edna? I just have not even BEGUN to gather the nerve to approach her with my idea. I've never been a very gutsy, or risky, person.

Craig is totally into the idea. He supports all my crazy dreams. The money? Well, I happen to know what the lot is worth (county appraisal website), and I'm sure we could take out a loan for it). The big obstacle is to actually talk to Edna, to get the whole thing rolling. I could be stopped dead in my tracks, but then again, she could be willing to make a little cash. Or willing to let me garden a hunk of it, even if she doesn't want to lose ownership of it.

I'm sure I'll be making more posts about this dream, because right now it's in my mind very, very often. Or should I say a LOT? ;)

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