Three hours, two blisters, several bug bites, and a walk through a spiderweb later, the patio was swept, the yard was clean. It was hard, really, trying to make a dirt yard look neat. Look put together. Look like home. I grew up with yards, with grass between my toes and the smell of a freshly-mowed lawn. Summer, that was. It breathed summer, smelled like summer. Summer was when I would be outside, all day, every day, until the sun set and the soles of my feet blackened. Here, in the city, in the twelfth-largest city in the United States, I have no grass. No blades between my toes, but no hay to mow, either. Just dirt and mulch and leaves and weeds. It was the weeds I battled against last week. Weeds and forgotten spiderwebs. I unearthed orphan trees, swept dirt and seeds and leaves from behind the planters. My inherited, heavy, cement planters. I fussed and untangled the herbs in my inherited garden as well. The oregano. The heavy mint vines. The sweeping chives. Neat. Neat and clean, just as I like everything. I pulled the decayed and deceased flowers, shifted pots and plants and discovered, beneath everything, hidden in the crevices and tunnels and safety of the earth, worms and crickets and ants and snails. A cache of abandoned shells. I stared at each creature, at each piece of nature, with childlike wonder. Picked worms and moved them to fresh, dark, damp earth. Delicately stroked the lost wing of a cicada. It was all there; the naturalness, the ecosystem of creatures smaller than myself. I had to respect them. I had to allow "Spider Dude," the once-nickel-sized arachnid, to build its web just outside my door. Build its sticky net across my light, my railings, my steps, my door, my maple tree. Each night, a new web, each night a new house for victims. The spider grew. And grew. And grew. It's still growing, from a hard and bumpy peach, to a fleshy and silver dollar-sized creature. A garden spider, it will be. And, together, we share this yard. This dirt yard, these wooden steps, this Indiana air.


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