On The Road: The Joy of the Attractive Nuisance and Well Fed Deer

The old trampoline finally gave it up for good. Hinkle photo.
The old trampoline finally gave it up for good. Hinkle photo.

By Annette Hinkle

It served its time well, and was much loved while it lasted.

But alas, last week, it finally met its demise.

“It” was the trampoline that has lived in our backyard for the past several years. The reason for its presence was our daughter, Sophie. She was probably around 11 when we found it on Craig’s List and we picked it up for $25 from a guy who lived in Bridgehampton. It was a good deal. The thing was quite large with a generous bouncing surface and it provided years of fun.

I can remember times when there would be five or six kids jumping on it at once and sometimes, I’d even get in there with them, reliving my own childhood which did not include a trampoline (or a pony), much to my dismay. Being the good parents that we are, we had bought the netting to go around it in order to keep kids from flying off in all directions, thereby hoping to avoid a “friendly lawsuit” — an oxymoron if ever there was one.

Now that Sophie is close to 16, we’ve been debating whether the time has come to finally get rid of ye olde trampoline. But she lobbied to keep it around for one last season — she’s become quite fond of taking loads of blankets and pillows outside so she can lie on the trampoline at night and watch the stars go by. Good, wholesome entertainment for country kids, considering everything else they could be up to at this age.

So one more summer it was.

But then last weekend, as we were getting ready to head out for dinner with some friends, Sophie took a detour to do a couple minutes of bouncing. Then we heard a shout. She had done a flip and when she landed, one of the metal legs finally gave way with a snap and a sigh.

Thankfully our daughter was fine and laughing about it, but since we had already re-welded one of the supporting legs, this final collapse sealed the old trampoline’s fate. We will soon get a dumpster and in it will go along with everything else we want out of our lives.

Fortunately, in all the years we had it, we were never sued — and though the trampoline was what they call “an attractive nuisance” in legalize, it really wasn’t all that good looking. Certainly not like, say, a Gunite pool or a tree house designed by a famous architect. When it comes to exotic backyard amenities, those are what I’d call attractive nuisances.

But we have no pool and no tree house. And soon we will have no trampoline either. I’m sorry to admit that we are truly “backyard challenged” and always have been. It’s not just the lack of fun things to do for kids that’s the problem, we actually have bigger issues than that.

Chief among them is the fact that both my husband and I have come to the realization that we despise gardening. Like finances and children, this is the kind of thing couples should discuss prior to getting married, but since we were urban dwellers at the time of our meeting, it just didn’t come up.

We realized the truth of our mutual disdain for gardening about 10 minutes after closing on our house. No wonder we did so well as apartment dwellers. There was nothing to kill there except roaches. Now, despite how much we spend on plant material, our botanical efforts usually come to naught. It’s partially due to lack of skills, time and interest, but I also gotta call out the deer on this one, which we have come to dislike even more than gardening.

Our yard is a dessert — note that’s two “ss” not one. So when the deer finish getting free handouts from neighbors who feed them (outside their own well-fenced in yards I might add), they hoof it straight to our place, which is contained by neither fence nor hedge. So rhododendrons, hostas, herbs — you name it, we’ve bought it, they’ve devoured it and come back for more.

The plants may struggle for their lives but the one thing that lives quite happily in our yard, in addition to the deer, are the moles and/or voles. It’s almost comical how, at this time of year when we turn on the outdoor spigots and start watering what few plants we have left, a whole section of mossy lawn will collapse when hit with the spray from the hose, revealing a Viet Cong-worthy confluence of tunnels crisscrossing the yard.

It’s actually become something of an obsession for me as I turn the spray on full blast and try to expose the course of the tunnels and flood them out, which soon turns the yard into a mud-bath and takes me far from the target plant and into a whole other zip code. Am I the only one who enjoys this in a sick kind of way?

Ultimately, I blame spring. There’s something about this time of year that brings out a sense of backyard doom and gloom. The fact that most people I know are happy to get out and dig in the dirt again just reminds me that warm weather only serves to highlight our own landscaping inadequacies.

Frankly, it’s getting embarrassing and I feel like we’re bringing down the property values. No wonder our neighbor can’t sell his house.

Which is why we’ve been formulating a plan. If we can find the money in the near future, we’ll take the plunge by fencing in our yard, and hiring a landscaper to do what we have failed to do in the 20 years that we have lived here. You gotta be smart enough to know when to seek professional help, and we have arrived. While we’re at it, maybe we’ll also put in new septic (I hear you can get rebates for that now) and renovate the little cottage that we have out back. Originally, we thought it would be an adorable private abode for guests and later, thought it would serve as a clubhouse for Sophie and her friends. But the spiders are so thick out there, our arachnophobic off-spring won’t go out there even for 10 seconds to retrieve something from the deep freeze for dinner. Yes, we keep a freezer instead of guests out there now — and everything else that should be in a garage, which we don’t have.

So yeah, as I sit here and look out the window imagining what could be, I’m starting to think a little rehab of this whole piece of property might be in order. Why not? We’re at that age where we deserve to make it nice.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll even put in a Gunite pool and get a pony — just in time for our daughter to go off to college.