Delbert Earle's Perfect Yard

It is a warm Spring afternoon, the kind you can have here in the Carolinas even before the first of May. 

My friend Delbert Earle is sitting at his kitchen table, next to the window that looks out on the back yard.  He can feel the warm breeze on his face, smell the scent of nature budding and bursting, all full of herself. 

He can hear the chattering of bird couples, fussing with each other over their redecorating plans:  “Shall we put the twig here?”  “No, silly, over there.”

            Every once in awhile, Delbert Earle leans toward the window and calls out, “Green side up!”  His boy Elrod is planting sod in the back yard.

            “Aw, Daddy,” Elrod calls back in disgust.

            Delbert Earle laughs.  Even Elrod cannot diminish his feeling of well-being this Spring afternoon.  This will be the year Delbert Earle has the perfect yard.

            Only fescue and ornamentals will sprout from his ground.

            Chickweed and crabgrass will move down the street for the summer.

            It will rain every third day – a warm, gentle rain.

            And Wal-Mart will run their best fertilizer on constant special.

            There will be no leaks in the garden hose, no pigeons in the eaves, no fungus in the photinia.

            The lawnmower will crank every time on the third pull.

            And the day the “Yard of the Month” committee shows up in front of Delbert Earle’s house, everything will be lush and green and exploding with color.

            As Delbert Earle ponders horticultural perfection, he can almost hear the song of the turtle-dove out in the yard where Elrod is planting sod.

            “Green side up!” he calls again – the call of the American Dreamer.

            After all, what’s Spring for, anyway?

Elrod's Summer Job

My friend Delbert Earle was telling me the other day about this great summer job he found for his boy Elrod.  Now, Elrod is a good kid, not inclined toward serious mischief.  But Delbert Earle is a firm believer in the notion that if you wear a kid out with work, he’s less likely to stray.

Delbert Earle read in the paper that the state had decided to let private contractors do some of the mowing on roadsides, instead of state crews, figuring it would save some money.  So Delbert Earle submitted a bid on Elrod’s behalf for a stretch of Highway 16 between Charlotte and Newton.  And the bid won.

Riding mower.jpg

Delbert Earle figured that a summer of mowing 50 miles of both sides of a road would be an all-season project.  One big, endless lawn.  So he dropped Elrod and his lawnmower off right outside Charlotte in early June and plans to pick him up in Newton about the middle of August.  Elrod is responsible for grass, equipment, food and lodging.  It’s a nice contract, so Elrod is easily able to take care of his expenses.  It is, by the way, a riding mower, so there's no problem with transportation.  Delbert Earle is available by phone in case of emergencies.

So far, the only call about the matter was from a state trooper.  Elrod had flagged him down when he figured out what was going on.  The trooper heard Elrod out, called Delbert Earle, and asked him if he thought there was still time for his own kid to get a contract.  Maybe Ashville to Hickory.   

 Robert Inman's fifth novel, The Governor's Lady, will be published in September by John F Blair Publishers.  See home page for details and tour schedule.