One of the goals of this blog is to celebrate and give voice to all aspects of a Southern life...even if some areas of discussion are a little more touchy than others. A person can't get a true image of this wonderful part of the country unless all of the corners are exposed, and some of those corners...yeek.
Yard art. We Southerners are particularly fond of our gardens. Some of us actually tend toward growing sustenance (you haven't lived until you've had a home grown tomato or butter beans) and some of us go for aesthetics. Personally, I like a yard that I can appreciate from the window of my air conditioned house. Finding more reasons to be outdoors in the land of 980 degree summers with 300% humidity ain't my my idea of a good time if there isn't an ocean or pool involved.
To each his own, but I can pretty much guarantee you that at least one house in every Southern neighborhood has a home with spectacular decoration of the type that gives Homeowner's Associations the shivering fits. For those of you not schooled in the ways of yard ornamentation, let me start off by saying that there are two basic theories: Concrete and plastic.
Some might say that concrete is the classier option, but it can be argued that the term "classy lawn ornament" is a bit of an oxymoron no matter how you look at it. There is a business here in New Hanover County that specializes in the manufacture and sale of concrete lawn ornaments and it is really worth the trip. There are acres and acres of everything you could possibly dream up to memorialize in concrete such as nekkid women, men and cherubs, Disney characters, NASCAR odds and ends, a giant polar bear made to scale, snakes (the hooded cobra might be my favorite) and any other animal that you could possibly dream up. Of course, as far as I'm concerned, the concrete Dolly Parton takes the cake, but I wouldn't trust it to stand upright.
As I said, folks might think of concrete yard art as a more tasteful way to go, but I can think of at least one gentleman--we'll call him Fred--who would heartily disagree with that statement. Fred retired to a nice, modest community on a golf course where he looked forward to many mornings of sitting out on his front porch, reading his John Grisham novels, sipping his coffee and gazing out at the rolling green expanses surrounding him. Fred's dream went according to plan for a month or so, but then a new neighbor moved in next door.
The neighbor proceeded to unpack a menagerie of concrete statues ranging from woodland creatures to water fountains that looked more appropriate for the streets of Rome. Some of them were painted and some of them weren't. Some of them moved while some of them stayed still. Some of them made little gurgling noises and some of them were silent. All of them drove the drove Fred bat shit crazy.
Fred complained to his Homeowner's Association, but they were uncharacteristically reluctant to step in. Finally, Fred felt he had no recourse but to erect a nice, tall fence. Of course, by the time the fence went up, the neighbor was fully aware of the havoc he was wreaking and derived considerable pleasure from wreaking it. Accordingly, the neighbor snuck out into the night and placed a family of concrete possums across the top of the nice, tall fence.
Imagine Fred's surprise and dismay when he woke up the next morning and stepped out onto his porch with his coffee and his Grisham novel. All of those little possums were mocking him. Fred snapped. He went back inside to get his shotgun (we are talking about the South, after all), loaded it up, went outside and conducted target practice on the decorative yard critters. Of course, Fred got into all sorts of trouble and even--somewhat ironically--received a citation from his Homeowners's Association for his retaliatory action.
Now we come to plastic yard art. In my book, the plastic media is a much more vibrant and interesting. I mean, who can say that fifty pink plastic flamingos in a yard isn't fun? My church sure can't.
The youth group has rigged up a brilliantly diabolical money making scheme that they call "flocking houses." Pursuant to this practice, a church member can pay to target another church member's home whereupon the youth group shows up in the wee hours of the morning to insert plastic pink flamingos in every square inch of the targeted yard. The home owner has to pay the youth group to come and pick them back up and, of course, said home owner can pay money to retaliatory flock the flockers yard.
Did you follow that? I'm worried about you if you did. It's kind of Mafia if you think about it a little too hard, so stop.
I will leave you with the tale of my own frightening brush with yard art: I had to go up into the country to take a document for a client to sign. As I pulled into her driveway, I couldn't help but notice the spectacular yard art displayed before me. She had deer and fountains and totem poles and all manner of things memorialized in a mixed media of plastic and concrete.
I got out of the car and started down the walkway to her front door. I walked past a little pond scene with what I thought were plastic ducks because THE LITTLE BASTARDS WEREN'T MOVING AT THE TIME. I don't know if any of you have ever come into contact with domesticated ducks, but they are some of the meanest SOB's you will ever deal with. A friend of mine had a duck when we were little and that thing would chase and bite you faster than a pit bull.
So, the ducks "magically" came to life and started getting territorial. I shrieked when they started moving and that probably fired them up even more. The whole scene ended with me running around the yard in an attempt to get away from the snapping ducks while my client watched in glee from the safety of her window.
Suffice it to say, boys and belles, that yard hasn't done Your Truly any favors.