Gordon Grant, one of our neighbors, says now that our driveway’s fixed his kids will no longer have to wear waders when they come over on Halloween.
Could it have been that that great system of lakes, seemingly scoured out by the retreat of the last glacier, was off-putting? I had never meant to give offense.
“See,” I said to Mary the last time she complained of it, “one of the puddles is shaped in the form of a heart! Have you no concern for the environment?”
And, in Spanish class, when they asked me where I lived, I’d always say, “Vivo en la Calle de la Vista de Puerto (Harbor View Drive) pero no tenemos una vista de puerto — es una vista des charcos (puddles).”
I’ve always curried a little eccentricity, and yet I admit, as in the case of my late baby-puke-green 1967 Ford Falcon, it’s usually been at the expense of the neighborhood’s property values, which, because of our latest improvement, are now soaring.
Geoff Gehman posits in his recently published (and very well-written) “The Kingdom of the Kid” that my fidelity to the deceased Falcon — “a home,” as I once said, “for wayward dolls” — was rooted in the sympathy I had always had for the anti-conventional Beales.
Finally, however, a note left in our mailbox, to the effect that “the dead (the Falcon had given up the ghost one night in front of our house and I had backed it up onto the front lawn near the mailbox, where it was to remain for a long while) are usually interred” prompted me to act. And, with the dolls still in the jump seat, and with the obscenities affixed at our housewarming still on it, Reid Brothers towed the long-flightless Falcon away.
I had no alternative then but to let the driveway go, and to put our bashed mailbox (replaced this past fall with a thoroughly respectable one) in a sling.
Scott King, our former highway superintendent, who did the driveway work entirely to our satisfaction, explained it graphically; our driveway was, in fact, a delta into which all the surface water of the neighborhood flowed (and into whose bogs copies of The New York Times often would have to be retrieved by our yellow Lab, Henry, who, luckily, loves to swim). Raise the grade a bit, Scott King said, and that would no longer happen.
Emily loves the wheat color of the gravel and whenever she sees a leaf on it she plucks it off. The gently curved entrance virtually says to visitors, “Come on in, and may you take comfort in the delightfully crunchy sound your tires and the comely stones make as the Graves’s estate hoves into view.”
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” I said to Mary as we admired Mr. King’s handiwork. “Or at least a joy for a while. I’d quote more, but that’s about as far as I got in ‘Endymion.’ ”