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There’s a corner of our backyard that I don’t let Top Cat mow. Now that’s it’s the middle of July the growth is crazy — shoulder-high in places. I call this wildness  “The Meadow”. This is a peek of it on the edge of our second patio, where we put the bird feeders. Birds, you might not know, are PIGS.

After they get through stuffing themselves at our feeders they’ve scattered enough seed on the ground for a Burpee catalog. One day this strange stalk (see photo, above) started to grow and we thought, hey, maybe the birds planted us some sweet corn! So far, it doesn’t look like corn, unless it’s some weird Chernobyl-style maize. But watching it grow counts as our Summer Activity.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. Today I wanted to talk about The Meadow, and its bumper crop:

Can you see them? All three of them?

This is what I call our Cash Crop.

Because I am an idiot. And I think this kind of cuteness in our own backyard makes us millionaires.

You know what else makes me feel rich?

1. When Kennedy airport (15 miles to the South of us) re-routes its flights (we never know why) the planes’ approach is right over our little village. We can sit in the backyard and read the tail fins on all the aircraft: Air France. El Al. JAL. That South American airline that LOVES the color teal. TEAL! (I could write a whole book on the 1980s and the color TEAL!)  Air Suisse! Fed Ex! Each plane is a topic of association and I sit there and marvel that they can get those tin buckets to FLY. We even saw that new monster Airbus pass by — it’s a non-stop show, all those planes bringing all those people with all their stories to our neck of the woods. Who needs expensive drugs when you have this for free?

2. On the first Tuesday of every month the Locust Valley bagpipe drill team practices at the Presbyterian church in the village. You can just walk in and take a seat in the pews and listen to the most amazing Scottish music for free. In fact, those guys (and ladies) are so happy to have visitors that they will make you feel like they are playing this all for you. There’s highland drums, too: that sound pounds through your skull like the heart beat of the Celtic god of thunder. And when you get a load of the skinny Indian teenager who plays his heart out on those bagpipes you give in to the feeling that the human race is full of some of the most wondrous creatures on earth.

3. My local public library has two yards of P. G. Wodehouse books on its shelves. They’ve been there forever… that means that most of those books are vintage, with the original dust covers…(if you’re a book lover, you know how important that is). And I can borrow them any time I want. (For instance, today I got a 1958 edition of Cocktail Time, and a 1971 edition of Jeeves & The Tie That Binds — the one with the author photo of P. G. touching his toes at age 80). A good public library is like having a rich uncle who gives you free rein in his great collection of books.

4. American birds. They might be — what am I saying? THEY ARE — pigs, but they are also marvelous. It’s a fact that there are very few blue birds in the world and in fact, there are none in Ye Olde World. We in the New World are lucky to have the bluest, smartest, spiffiest blue bird in the world: the Blue Jay. Every time I see them (every day) I feel exorbitantly wealthy that I am able to feast my eyes on these astoundingly beautiful, entertaining, and jazzy smart-ass birds.

5. It’s not that I live in a 100-year old  house. It’s that when this 100-year old house needs a minor face lift, my husband (the Top Cat) prepares to tackle the down and dirtiness of Home Repair in a wealthy way: he scrounges through all his power tools and his jars of bits of hardware, he hoists his tool belt and his vast stock pile of hand tools and drags together all the machinery and leather accessories and snazzy metal accoutrements of his trade, and he goes into the kitchen and pours himself a glass of red wine. Then off he goes, to do manly things, wielding in one hand a lethal apparatus of modern technology that can drill/sand/saw through steel/concrete/slate; and in the other hand is alcohol. This makes me feel rich because Top Cat’s life insurance policy covers Death By Stupid Stuff That Happens With Power Tools and I’m the only beneficiary!

So, what’s making you feel rich today?

6 comments to Rich girl

  • Sally

    Oh, Vivian, you hit many of my millionaire’s assets right on the money.
    First, an agreement on public libraries: I spent some months in Brussels, and to withdraw any books from the meager collection of the neighborhood branch library, I’d have to subscribe for a not minor fee. Just to browse, I had to park my passport at the desk! Bless you, Andrew Carnegie, for getting our free library system off to a great start.

    Second, the USPS: For a tiny cost, I can send a letter/package to someone across the continent. In a few days, with remarkable reliability, it will be delivered right to my friend’s home by a uniformed representative of a government agency, someone who has a security clearance, even! It makes me embarrassed to use email. Almost.

    Third, a few steps away, the turn of a knob brings me all the clean, safe-to-drink water I can hope for. The cost per refreshing glass is miniscule. When a water main break recently affected almost all of Greater Boston, we never lost water service. We were advised within minutes of a boil-water advisory, and full service was restored with amazing speed.

    We pay taxes for all this, and Government certainly doesn’t get it right all the time, but we’d have to be true millionaires to afford these things if we had to pay individually to provide all these boons.

  • carol

    Photo 1, I do believe from my messy bird experiments contains a lovely millet specimen. They have planted next seasons treats!

  • Deborah

    Just a couple of days ago I was in our public library & was overcome by appreciation for its existence. They are the very best thing American, I think. An example of what can happen when we pool resources and share the bounty.

    The bounty of nature, with its abhorrence of a vacuum — totally. Butterflies, especially swallowtails, in abundance right now. And there’s this mutant male cardinal, no feathers on his head so it’s black in stark contrast to the brilliant red, visiting my feeder. I hope to get a photo of him.

    Being in the flight pattern for the Louisville airport occasionally, for reasons I’ve never been able to figure out: not so much. This is probably because Louisville is a UPS hub, so the flights are late night/wee hours of the morning, heard more than seen.

  • Rachel

    Well, after Vivian, Sally has also hit some of my high points. And, since I dont always read the name at the top of the comment FIRST, I was part way through and realized that this was MY friend Sally writing. :-)

    1. Let me add to water services, sewer service. Reading about the *old days,* even amongst the very rich, this was not a pretty sight – nor smell. We definately dont have this right ecologically, but for now it lingers on as working.

    2. Sign me up for libraries. Ours have vastly reduced their hours and it has put a cramp in my style. No matter what part of our fair city I needed to be in, I could always go early and visit the branch library. There I could use the bathroom and browse the used book sale. It was the rare visit that did not lead to a new book for me and a small profit for them. Now there are only three open Sundays, NO libraries open on Mondays, and Tues and Wed not until 12:30pm. Those are some long days. Yesterday I borrowed NINE CDs. Everything that caught my eye/ear. I could have taken out TEN at a time. No charge.

    3. I have found that acupuncture manages to keep the ravages of age and neglect from completely immobilizing me. I visit a community clinic every Monday. There, for a very reasonable fee, Miles asks about ALL of my physical ailments and wellness and then makes fine-tuning adjustments. I keep saying that even rich people, EVEN OPRAH, do not have this kind of regular care where small discomforts can be nipped in the bud before they become serious enough to *see the doctor.*

    4. The incredible connections and endless sources of information available via THE INTERNET.

    Whoops, gotta go move the laundry. Have a wonderfully rich day everyone.

  • Deb

    Aw! I could so be the old lady with 20 cats. I went away with the family for a mini vacation this weekend. On Saturday, we hiked along the top of a mountain. The air was crisp and the view clear. We found a restaurant on the trail and ate fish soup and rough rye bread on rustic benches in front of a stone fireplace. I realized that not so long ago I had a virus-damaged heart and could barely stand. Not so long ago my little girl was so crippled from arthritis she couldn’t muster enthusiasm for Christmas morning. Now we’re climbing mountains. My son is home safe from war. I am loved beyond anything I deserve. How could anyone be any richer?

  • G2

    Yes, I do indeed love libraries.

    And I’ll give a shout out for librarians too. My first librarian was Miss Shears of Green Bay, WI who was always stylishly dressed with impeccable nails AND asked my mom to bring in one of our goats at story time to show how we milked them.

    Check out the recently published picture book “Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I Don’t)” by Barbara Bottner. Miss Brooks is a librarian in the tradition of Miss Shears – has fun with clothes (more quirky than Miss Shears, but then again there’s more leeway for sartorial adventure these days) and is intrepidly creative when it comes to connecting readers to the world around them.

    Okay, so Erin McKean isn’t technically a librarian, but as dictionary expert AND author of the A Dress a Day blog (her “Pattern Story” pieces are hilarious) she can totally keep up with the Miss Shears and Miss Brooks of the world.

    My point?

    Great Books + Fun Clothes + Not Taking Life Too Seriously = make me feel rich.

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