Backyard Surprise


March SOLC–Day 19
A huge thank you to  Anna, Beth, Betsy, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.


The blue skies and relatively warm temperatures beckoned. After a long focused day of scoring, grading and writing report card comments, I slipped outside to take a walk.  I enjoyed stretching my legs, feeling the sun on my face and breathing in the chilly air. It had been a long stretch at my desk! I snapped some photos here and there, rejoicing at early signs of spring. On the way back home, I noticed an interesting formation in a snow bank at the end of a neighbor’s driveway. I stopped to take some more photos.

“Hey! You wanna see some interesting snow?” a voice called out.

I straightened up quickly to see an elderly homeowner standing on his side porch in his socks, looking at me. “Oh,” I stammered, “Hi! I’m just taking some pictures of your snow bank.”

“Yup. You wanna see some more interesting snow…like a snow castle?” he asked.

“Um… sure,” I replied.

“Come ’round back,” he said, pointing. “I snow blowed a path. It’s just in the backyard.”

I stepped around the snow bank and into his driveway, pushing back a few random thoughts of harmless-looking psycho killers. As I made my way toward the house, the man and I exchanged comments about the weather and the interesting snow textures in his yard. I reached the side porch and again he pointed to the snow blown path that led behind the house, saying “Just ’round there.”

Crunch. Crunch. I stepped off the pavement and onto the snowy path. I took a few more steps forward. Then, with a lot of curiosity and some trepidation, I peered around the corner. Whoa!  There it was…a full blown castle wall!


“Wow!” I said, “That’s great!”

“Ayuh,” he said, “We just built her this afternoon. That’s how I get my pictures of the birds.  I look out the bathroom window and take pictures of ’em feeding there.”

I looked more closely and noticed bird seed topping the crenellated wall and scattered along its base.

“This is wonderful!” I said, “I love taking pictures of birds, too!”

We introduced ourselves and chatted for a few minutes about cameras, birds and photography. Thoughts of psycho killers retreated. If his castle bird feeder hadn’t already tipped me off, our conversation would have: this man was a dedicated photographer and bird enthusiast. He was looking to share these passions. After some over-my-head references to cameras and some general bird talk, we said our goodbyes and I retraced my steps down his driveway.

I wonder what else is going on in my neighbors’ backyards…



16 thoughts on “Backyard Surprise

  1. Amy Warntz says:

    Do I comment on the beauty of the pussy willows first or the mind-baffling full blown castle wall? Or do I mention that you made me laugh with the thought of psycho killers lurking in the snow? It was worth the risk-a new friend found, a delightful surprise, beautiful moments captured by your camera, and some fresh air.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Amy! You are such a fabulous comment writer! I love getting your feedback and it always encourages me to write more. Your students must feel the same way! On a side note, I’m actually perplexed by those buds. I don’t think they’re pussy willows as they’re attached to some tree that looks like birch to me. But when I googled birch buds, it wasn’t a match. Hmmmm… something to research!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy Warntz says:

        Thanks, Molly! You’ll laugh because I always say to myself, gee I wish I could write comments like Molly! It goes both ways my blogging buddy. And when you find out what the pussy willow knock-offs are, let me know. I’m curious too!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your writing shows the tension of meeting a stranger and the unknown and then the reassurance that through common interests, he’s ok. Your photos are beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We each have a story. We want to tell them. We need someone to listen. How wonderful you were there to hear his story and share some of yours with him. The pictures tell a story, too. There is so much to see all around us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cindaroo42 says:

    Super post! It would have been so easy to just keep walking but instead you went to go look! I do wonder what my neighbors are up to….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. paulabourque says:

    We never really know others unless we make that effort. I love that you took that chance and I love how you captured the voice of your Mainer neighbor. Ayuh. I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. gkar2017 says:

    ………… b r a v o … !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ………. from …. Volos ….. GREECE ………….


  7. Colin Davitt says:

    My alarm bells went off when some random person invited you into the backyard.

    I grew up in Minnesota and remember people building things like that castle but never as bird feeder. I think that idea is genius! Build something interesting and turn it into something even better.

    I also wonder what my own neighbors are up to. We all seem to be living our own lives and the only conversations are an occasional wave.


  8. Your story reminded me of a book I’ve been slowly reading, When Strangers Meet, about how talking with stranger, even briefly, can enhance our daily lives. You seem to have gotten a new friends this way!


  9. Wow! Love your slice! You never know what you might find until you look! Enjoyed all your thoughts about going to look in your neighbor’s yard. Very glad you included all your pictures!


  10. macrush53 says:

    The pussy willows against the blue sky are divine. and then the contrast of the snow castle makes this a wonderful slice.


  11. onathought says:

    What a wonderful surprise! And a great way to get to know your neighbors.


  12. JudyK says:

    What a great story! I had to chuckle at your psycho killer thought…That would have been my thought as well. I’m glad that everything turned out so well, and you met a new friend. I especially love how you ended your story….Maybe there’s a sequel in your future? ~JudyK


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