Dirt – The Swing Set / Pergola Project

ContemplationErect a swing set for your kids and they love you. The swing set enthralls them. They play exuberantly and you can hear their cheerful cries through the kitchen window. This lasts for twenty minutes. The swing set sits in the yard until the metal rusts or the plastic decays. You dismantle it piece by piece. Over the period of a few weeks you remove sections to the curb because the garbage men will cart off not more than your allotment every collection day. The garbage men take the parts to the landfill. This takes place when the kids are away at college.

Unless you build the swing set out of two by six treated lumber and four by four posts. In this case the swing set lasts until your grandchildren are too old and they never came to play anyway because they live in Austin, Texas. The monstrosity sits in the back yard surviving longer than your memories.

We had one of those in the back yard. Assembled with large nuts and bolts. The actual swings, constructed of metal and plastic, had disappeared decades before. Brandenburg Gate stood, waiting for some archeologist from some future century to wonder what rituals took place in these tropical back-yard jungles.

I imagined I might be able to take the swing set apart and strap it to the top of my car and drive it to the city dump forty minutes away. I wondered if they would take such a thing. My wife had other ideas. “You can convert it into a pergola.”

I did not know the word.

I looked ‘pergola’ up in our extensive gardening library and on-line. Our structure looked like a pergola.

Pergola - detail“Maybe we could leave it in place and call it a pergola,” I suggested brightly.

She looked at me with that “Don’t try to get out of this I don’t care how hot and humid it is outside I want a pergola” look.

A good relationship is not simply built on knowing what battles to fight. It is built by matching capabilities to the battle and estimating the outcomes.

I could build this. I noticed few right angles, few places where things had to fit perfectly, few places that would stand out and be critically viewed. Mold and vines would quickly envelop it. Reptiles and amphibians would stand guard. Nobody would ever look closely.

The project fell exactly within my capabilities.

I found a pergola design resembling a swing set. After measuring the existing structure, dismantling it, driving to the hardware store and buying even more lumber, and sawing and screwing and matching the stain, I erected an acceptable pergola.


Another component of landscaping and gardening.

Have we discussed what gardening is, yet?

(About Dirt)(Next Chapter – What is Gardening, Anyway?)

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