It is human nature to want to exercise the right of self-expression. After all that is what sets us apart from the other living species. It is the ability to re-invent ourselves that make us the superior beings. When I was in high school in the 70's we had dress codes. The administration never missed the opportunity to remind us that "you are judged by what you wear". Now today that materialistic way of thinking would be frowned upon but hey we were wearing polyester and paisley for heaven's sake! In keeping with that let us examine a rudimentary but none the less visible form of self-expression....Yard Art. You know "yard stuff" as in the inanimate objects that you display in your front yard. This includes figures, structures, signs as well as antiques and sculpture. Now here in farm country old farm implements are fodder for creative landscaping.
Let's just talk about curb appeal for a moment a.k.a. the impression from the street of your humble abode. For instance if you paint your house white with black shutters it is pretty much for the most part non-threatening, but paint it pink with purple shutters and you will in the words of Emeril.."kick it up another notch!" You will be the talk of the neighborhood coffee club. They will refer to you as the people living in THAT pink house. This comment is immediately followed with questions from various sippers asking..."have you seen them....what do they dress like....do you think they are from Europe?" See you already have made a statement. Only you know what that is but you have definitely opened the doors of communication.
Yard art does the same thing. I remember all too well my grandma's pink flamingo venture. Yes she had 2 of the tropical fowl with wire legs displayed under the mimosa tree that she had ordered from a nursery catalog. When we were kids and mowed her yard we had to be sure and place these birds right back in the proper place under the graceful fronds of this Floridian canopy. I wonder if grandma was dreaming of warmer climes by staging this non-native display. I'm not sure because grandma never traveled out of Indiana in all of her 92 years so maybe she was dreaming. Being a gardener I believe I have an acute sensitivity to landscaping and the way people present their front yards. I was certainly surprised to have noticed something along my daily route to work the other day that I had apparently "overlooked" previously.
Yes there she was in all her splendor standing in the bed of petunias....the Virgin Mary. A very nice rendition I must say. It was not the icon that I found unsettling but her choice of bed fellows for companionship shall we say. There stood the fantasy of every 3 year old male for generations....that's right Snow White! Now we know this soprano pariah never goes anywhere without her band of roadies. They were all there...all seven of them. Whistling and working in reckless abandon. Not a one of them having the good sense to know they would never grow up to be over 18 inches tall. What do you expect from a group of guys all named after their individual character flaws. While this scene played out the Madonna is standing in a reverend prayerful stance. Is she praying that the hollow tree up the road will become vacant so this band of simple minded midgets will move or is she giving thanks for the fact that Mickey and Goofy didn't tag along as well? If this wasn't bad enough standing to right hand of Mary was such a spectacle of inapproriate behavior like I have never seen. The notorious Dutch boy and girl were kissing right in front of the Holy Mother. Acting just like a couple in the back row of the balcony at the Bijou. Most disturbing.
I then tried to understand perhaps what the home owners were trying to say with this unlikely menagerie. Perhaps they were stating that regardless of physical limitations or weakness in morality we all have a place in the kingdom of heaven. All of these figures were painted brightly so maybe the message is we are all different colors and we all have an equal role in the spectrum of life. Then again maybe the Virgin Mary was a gift from the mother-in-law. She thought it was only fitting as that is what she said when her son brought home his new bride ..."Holy mother of Jesus". The valley girl with her entourage belonged to the lady of the house as they were part of the divorce settlement from her first husband. And the pride of the Netherlands arrived as a house warming gift from the guys down at the plant. The choice of the lip-lockers was made by the secretary as the lads wanted to give one of those little boys hosing down the yard...if you know what I mean.
These thoughts were fresh on my mind as I turned into my own driveway. As I approached the house I looked down at the rabbit figure with doe eyes standing up on his back legs. I reached above his head to yank the painted yard sign reading "Eat More Possum" out of ground. I slowly turned and made a bee line down the drive to deposit my statement of self expression and dump it in the trash.
Reflective moments from down on the farm.
(c) 2013 Ellen Wilson-Pruitt