End of the Line: Weird Things in Your Yard

by Roy Blount Jr. - Dec 09/Jan 2010

Finding the right ornament is no easy task

Illustration by Barry Blitt

I had never taken stock of my lawn and garden ornaments until recently. My friends Dan and Carroll Mayfield bought a house in Aiken, South Carolina, that had one of those, you know, jockeys near the front door. The first time their dog, Beanie (now deceased), saw it, he barked at it. Every time Beanie saw one of those jockeys in Aiken, he barked at it. There aren’t as many of them in Memphis, where he had spent most of his life.

At any rate, the Mayfields didn’t want it, but the sellers wouldn’t take it with them, and the Mayfields soon discovered why: That jockey’s foundation goes so deep, you’d have to dynamite it out. It’s almost a part of the house, if not of the family.

Dan wanted to put a Yankee cap and a fielder’s glove on it, so it might be taken as a tribute to…I don’t know, you’d have to go back a ways, Mickey Rivers maybe. Carroll put the kibosh on that. And then Beanie died, and the jockey became a reminder of him.

Maybe I am making too much of the Beanie connection. I always liked that dog, unusually shaped though he was. And he liked me. I have often told Dan he didn’t appreciate Beanie enough. For one thing, Beanie was a good judge of lawn ornaments.

I think he would like the concrete frog my wife and I have in our yard. The neck of the cello that the frog is playing is broken off, but the frog is still playing it, hard. The frog looks a little bit like Beanie, in a certain light. And we have a concrete rooster with a chipped beak, and a bowling ball that just showed up one day, and a small version of The Thinker that has been sitting at various spots in the yard for twenty years now and still doesn’t appear to have come up with anything definite, and three wheelbarrows, and a birdbath in three pieces, one of which is now serving as a pedestal for the frog.

We don’t believe in gnomes. We aren’t churchy enough for Madonna in half a bathtub. My friend Ken Wells says that when he was growing up in Louisiana, he had a monkey outside, living in a hollow television set. We’re not that ambitious.