Friday, August 2, 2013

Frontyard Spectator

An honest to goodness mystery has been unfolding in my front yard for the past nine months. Turns out it has captured the imagination of the whole neighborhood. It's not exactly a topic for a nature blog, but if you will indulge me, it's a pretty good story. Maybe it qualifies for the blog as "human nature."

It started when I said I wanted a Little Free Library.  LFLs originated in Wisconsin as a memorial to the founder's mother, who had been a school librarian. They are dollhouse sized weatherproof structures that people fill with used books and mount on poles in their yards with a sign that says, "Take a book, leave a book."  To have one in your yard you can register online, and for a minimal fee, the organization sends you a numbered plaque and sign to be mounted on your own "library." As good concepts do, LFLs caught on and are now spread around the world. Over 6000 registered plaques have been shipped.

 LFLs are beginning to pop up in our bookish city of Decatur, Georgia. I love discovering new ones around town. So when my friend Kaaren and I found a discarded dollhouse, the perfect basic structure, my husband Moe mounted it on a pole in the front yard, intending to turn it into a Little Free Library for my birthday last November. I was beyond thrilled. The only trouble is, he didn't get to it right away. Nine months later the library is still not done, for good reason. Read the limerick to find out what developed.

Ode to the Mystery on Pinetree Drive

A dollhouse, outgrown and discarded,
From Burlington to Pinetree was carted.
       Intended to be
       A library free,
Right away, the new owner got started.

It would be the best birthday gift ever.
His wife would so love the endeavor.
       He’d build a new roof,
       Add a door, waterproof,
To keep her books safe from the weather.

But alas, his great plan had a hole.
His schedule was out of control.
       Too soon came the date.
       Her gift would be late.
But at least he could mount it on a pole.

He worked by the light of the moon.
It was worth it to hear her croon.
       “A Little Free Library?
       What a gift extraordinary!
And I know you will get it done soon.”

The weeks, they came and they went.
His time by his job was well-spent.
       Then one day sublime,
       In the fullness of time,
A small change became evident.

First—a tiny table and chair.
The mystery was, “Who put it there?”
       We questioned our friends.
       All leads were dead-ends.
So, how did it come, and from where?

Soon a miniature cupboard appeared.
Still, nobody volunteered.
       More pieces showed up,
       Nobody fessed up,
Though at each new arrival, we cheered.

A fireplace, a bed, and a stove,
Pieces tucked into every alcove.
       A bunny, if you please,
       And a pet Siamese,
Became part of the treasury trove.

An easel with original art!
A piano for performing Mozart!
       You were ever so clever.
       We kept hoping, however,
That your secret you soon would impart.

One morning the windows had curtains.
We had to find out now, for certain.
       Your ID, kept hazy,
       Is driving us crazy!
How long can you keep up this flirtin’?

Your wit simply can’t be outdone.
Your game was tremendously fun.
       From unfinished small house,
       To full furnished doll house,
No question, you hit a home run.

Our friends fondly watched it evolve.
We all will boo hoo the dissolve.
       With a story to tell,
       And our thanks, fare thee well.
Of your housekeeping duties, be absolved.

The dollhouse will soon be replaced,
With a library for readers with taste.
       We finally hired
       An architect, retired,
To finish the job, post haste.

One hope remains from the fact
That you don’t have your furniture back.
       We’ll return it toot sweet,
       If you appear on the street,
To join us for wine and a snack.

                             Deb and Moe Miller

The morning after we took down the dollhouse and furnishings, at last to make the library, a small sign appeared on the empty pole that said, "Boo Hoo!" I was out front doing yard work that day, and tons of passersby stopped to add their regrets and ask what happened to the house. Apparently, even people we didn't know had been enjoying the mysterious dollhouse development. They all had lots of questions.

So I wrote the limerick and hung it on the pole, mostly to share the story, but also as thanks to the trickster, on the outside chance it was someone we didn't know—someone who might not have heard how much fun we'd been having with the mystery.

I should add that even though all our friends denied involvement, we were pretty sure we knew which one of them was the trickster, because his now grown daughters had once had dollhouses. It had to be Tom. The prank was so like him. Still, he was a good and persistent liar if he were the guy. Just in case it was another of our friends, I hoped the limerick would inspire whoever it was to own up to it with full disclosure. Tune in next week to find out what happened after we hung the limerick. dkm


Jane Robertson said...

I've started several replies and none of them has done justice to this charming story. Suffice to say that the ode and the mystery deserve and complement each other. Just the most wonderful twisty tale. So waiting for next post...

dkm said...

It's hard not to give away the ending :-)

hannahmiller said...

Love the poem!

Jane Robertson said... suspense...

Pukeko G said...

That was a fantastic story and so well written, thankyou .. Seems a shame to ruin the sequence .. Could you have acquired another wee house and had them side x side or Two storey ??

Jane Robertson said... even more suspense...

dkm said...

Oops! Tried to correct that apostrophe mistake in my last comment about the plan for giving the dollhouse its due, but deleted.

Enjoy the suspense, Jane . . . hope it won't be a let down!

Pukeko G said...

And ... In Chch there are a couple of sites where you can swap a book for free as well .. great idea in a world where everyone seems to have their hand out for your bucks. :o)>