You are currently viewing Light Show: The view from the porch (reflections on gardening from someone who’d rather not).

Light Show: The view from the porch (reflections on gardening from someone who’d rather not).

So far this has been a rather odd and also slightly depressing winter. Weeks of gray weather punctuated by brutal bursts of bone-numbing glacial air that even puts the squirrels on edge. (How much moisturizing cream can a guy slather on before turning into a giant boil anyway?) Nothing to do but a soldier in front of the fire with my wireless laptop, surfing for ideas on how to improve our garden come spring.

According to my wife, the gardener, our biggest problem at the moment is the blinding lights on the power poles that make our garden look like a penitentiary exercise yard during a midnight escape alert. For years our friendly power company has refused to reduce their number or even dim them, claiming that the apartment dwellers across the alley, mostly young, single women, like the airport-runway-lighting effect for safety reasons.

While cruising the net for a solution to the lighting problem, I stumbled onto the perfect antidote for the winter blahs, the Bungee Jumper, a sweet-and-sour-based drink with citron vodka and limoncello. I came across it in a portal for a Las Vegas lounge called Nectar (it divides its cocktail menu into three categories, Mild, Wild, and Feeling Fuzzy), while looking for an article about a Pennsylvania gardener who likes to tend his garden in the nude. He’d been convicted of indecent exposure by a neighbor complaining that she and her fifteen-year-old daughter saw him gardening in nothing but his shoes and a wristwatch. But a superior court judge tossed the conviction out on the grounds that a guy’s backyard is his castle. Turns out the whole reason this guy started gardening “au naturel” in the first place was to get his neighbor to dim her outdoor floodlights, which apparently beamed directly onto his garden.

As most of you know, my allergies have long prevented my doing much in our garden. But there are times when a man has to come down off his porch (no matter how much pollen might be lurking out there) and lend a hand. I don’t know if the nude gardener succeeded in getting his neighbor to back off on her floodlights. The web article was silent on this point, although it did link me into some fascinating sites devoted to the clothing-optional recreation movement in the U.S. (which evidently is every bit as big as the Muslim fundamentalist movement in the Mideast) and a nude Lions Club (the first of its kind) in Florida.

It also gave me an idea for getting rid of the lights on the power poles. Come spring and the warm weather, I plan to head out into the garden wearing nothing but my wife’s welding goggles and start pounding away at the lawn with her propane-fired soil aerator. It won’t be long before our back yard is as dark as the Crystal Cave, after the flurry of hysterical calls to the power company’s emergency helpline from the gals across the alley. My wife will start digging trenches and laying cable for her own, low-level outdoor lighting system immediately, while her hero will be back out on the porch in his hanging bed with his wireless laptop and a celebratory Bungee.

–Cameron Blodgett

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