I don’t think I can go out there anymore. It was once a happy place. We called it the yard when first we ventured there until we planted flowers, and then we called it the garden. It’s back to being the yard again.

We had tulips and daffodils, Japanese grass in pots. My daughters, when they visited, romped with that beloved string of long-gone dogs. A few of them are buried out there now — the dogs, that is.

But the age of romping has passed. Today, Dave, the lawn guy, came and made it all presentable. You know it’s hard to stay in love with a place or person that can be best described as “presentable.”

So I don’t think I can go out there again. That’s enemy country now, unruly and rabid, and it can no longer be trusted.

Was it always that way? We didn’t think of it as such when we were very young, when Rosemary, she of the one thousand and one pastel-colored Angora sweaters and simple strand of pearls, and I lay on a blanket in tall, lush, romantic grass overlooking the Mississippi.

I do remember there was a lot of slapping and scratching before we gave up and went to that ice cream place with outdoor tables and the big, blue-lighted bug killer with its hum of death: hummmmmm ZAP hummmmm ZAP, as if it could kill every bug in the world.

There are ticks out there now. Maybe the original ticks, the ones that bit and killed Jack, are dead; but their kids and grandkids are still there, and they’ve got my name and pale flesh embedded in their DNA, so I don’t think I’m going out there.

I’m watching MSNBC cameras catching 45 cross the South Lawn of the White House, as he strolls to his helicopter ride. He’s so nonchalant. Has he been cautioned by the White House doctor? Is there even a White House doctor?

Do they have ticks in Washington? Is the fabled Rose Garden, the center of all that official frivolity, infected? Do you think 45 and Melania loll in the tall grass on a moonlit night as Rosie and I did? I think not. He doesn’t look much like a “loller.” She might loll.

Oh, look! The Sunday paper came this morning with all those inserts that advertise “Home and Garden Surprises.”

I enjoy reading the Sunday supplements. They’re full of color and ideas. I’m awed by big deck tables with huge umbrellas beaded with strings of lights attached all around.

The old pioneers, were any still around, would get a big laugh out of those lights. No adult rancher or sheepman would sit out in the woods at night with strings of colored lights on their wagons.

Those settlers were very resourceful, by the way. They learned from the native Americans to cover themselves with fatty bear grease to ward off the mosquitoes.

I don’t know that Rosemary, who preferred White Shoulders perfume, would take to bear grease, even though I would always have been prepared to apply it, if called upon.

Look at those lights. I would be surprised to find any Mainer worth his lobster dip having a dinner party out on the deck with all that illumination.

Mainers surely know that the surrounding lawns, lush and manicured or roughly drawn, are full of battalions of lean and hungry mosquitoes, staring in disbelief at the frolicking and semi-stoned barbecuers.

“Hey fellas, look. Fresh meat. Let’s party.”

I bravely ventured out on my deck in total darkness last night to view the stars. The local skunk, another of the spring surprises, rustled nearby. We stared at one another for a moment, two pilgrims who once shared a yard, then a garden that is once again a yard. It all belongs to him and the other nocturnal creatures now.

I shared a Walt Whitman line with him as he ambled away: “Now, Voyager, sail thou forth to seek and find.”

Good luck out there, voyager. That’s enemy country now.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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