Part III: The backyard

was common land back then.

Dog Meets Tennis Ball

Zip’s ears were rustled by dozens of different hands in a week, and it wasn’t as if we ever walked her. The neighbourhood would come to us.

Our pool was a kind of local swimming spot. Sometimes we would scrabble out of our car to hear what sounded like a zoo burning down out the back. We would wander from the driveway to see if we recognised any of the animals in the above-ground. We usually did.

One Saturday morning a herd of them arrived at our door, shirtless and shorted, towels over one shoulder. The told us Alan told them they could use the pool. We didn’t know Alan and neither did they, but they were polite and didn’t leave a mess.

Before we could play backyard cricket, we would have to establish the rules. Tippity-go. One hand, one bounce. Over the fence is six and out. If Zip gets out from under the door of the outside dunny and takes the ball, it’s a replay…  It was remarkable how completely and instantly we would integrate the list. And, when the original players grew bored or dry, the game would be passed on to latecomers as bare feet ran back to the water.

Remarkably, no bones were ever broken on the trampoline. Plenty of legs were pinched by the springs. Plenty of heels were bruised as we made our final jump and dismounted far too abruptly onto the lawn below. But nothing broken.

We used to lather that thing with detergent, hose it down and tip it lengthways while the combined body weight of brothers, sisters, friends and strangers kept the makeshift slippery-dip so perilously angled. One kid would climb to the top and slide back down, jump from the top or take the fall as the crowd simultaneously leaped from the other end, leaving the structure to plummet back to earth.

One lunchtime, a classmate found himself in our backyard. He’d had me over at his house once to let me watch him play Atari and I had returned home feeling as if I’d been asleep.

The day he came to our house, he left his shoes under the trampoline. Zip found them.

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~ by Daniel Townsend on September 9, 2013.

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