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I like to write and I like to party, but mostly just the writing. Disclaimer: A lot of these stories are true ones. The memory of growing-up in and around Killybegs. When you hold a mirror up to small communities, sometimes there are those who don't like the reflection. Capote knew this only too well. If you find the refraction just a little too much and would like the angle of incidence changed in your favor, please email me at georgevial@hotmail.com and I will be happy to make a name change here or there.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ready-Mix Landscaping

When my parents were married they were only kids themselves, Mum was 16 and dad was barely 19. Dad was a fisherman back then and could be away from home for weeks at a time, so he didn’t have the time or the notion to do much gardening and with mum spending most of her time at her parents, the front garden of our house was a bit of a wild patch. A herd of goats would have had a hard time keeping that mix of weeds, grass and rushes down.

I don’t know where Dad got the idea, but it must have seemed amazingly sane to him at the time: concrete the front garden. He completely covered the garden in ready-mix, like a small industrial park. He must have come up with the idea after too many pints of Smithwick’s in the Sail Inn. I can just imagine the look of inspiration on his face when he thought of it and the seconding from his drinking mates. I bet they all couldn’t wait to get out of the pub and get the concrete going.

The concrete dried in a very rough fashion providing an undulated landscape. A perfectly gray lunar landscape where we played marbles in the miniature craters, a natural battleground for our Star Wars and He-Man action figures. It was one of the only dry pieces of land around our house in soggy-wet Donegal and as unlikely as it would seem the concrete garden became a great place for the children on the Hill to play. I don’t know how many times I tripped and fell on that broken surface, scrapping my knees open and getting concrete chips in the palms of my hands, but all of us kids loved it, I think we were too young to be embarrassed. The concrete garden was a great example of the proximity of insanity and genius.

Ready-mix landscaping didn’t catch on with the neighbors and as Dad dried out and stopped drinking he eventually tore up all the concrete and put in a beautiful garden with a cherry blossom in the center and lush green grass. However, for pure shock factor, there’s never been a garden like the concrete one, the Donegal version of the Garden of the Gods.

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