My new life with my old deck
Not much happens up there anymore--except memories
07/30/2009 3:17 PM
When I moved into my house 15 years ago, I couldnít get off my deck. I loved the 400-square-foot outdoor space that covered the top of my two-car garage. I made thousands of trips up the stairs alongside the garage with food and drink and other accoutrements for entertaining. I hosted every person I knew on the deck; every weekend I had another round of guests--friends, relatives, new acquaintances, co-workers and virtual strangers--and I served every manner of food cooked on the grill upon my best dishes, along with my best wine glasses and serving platters. I cleaned up afterwards, and in between I mixed drinks, not to mention salad dressing.
Now I only have one group a year come up the stairs and look at the view at Roosevelt and State: my book club. The trees have grown and itís a tad harder to get a full view between the leaves framing the famously busy intersection, which is now dotted with speed cameras.
For the book group, I cook up a batch of barbecued chicken (in the oven), and I buy some potato chips and some fresh fruit and baby carrots, some packaged cookies and hummous. I do throw on a couple of tablecloths and I use matching silverware, but I also use plastic cups and paper napkins. I buy a ton of wine. And I cut up some lemon for club soda. I make it simple. And I still do all the cleaning up.
Which I love. Itís all quiet up there, lit by halogen street light glow--and sometimes by a little moonlight. And I go up and down the stairs of the deck with leftovers and dirty dishes and then up and down the few stairs (and onto another small deck) on the back of the house and in and out of the kitchen. And I feel beach-ey, Martha Stewart-ey and free.
But the deck has seen its better day. The cedar is wearing out, so many nails have popped out that they often catch on the bottom of my pants or push on the bottom of my shoe. I no longer put any annuals up there--too hard to water--but a lot of my old pots--sprouting green weeds, thank goodness--are still up there, retelling snippets of their past lives filled with vibrant petunias, hearty dogwoods and tropical hibiscus. The old-fashioned ropes on my hammock are unraveling and the frame is rusted out. My umbrellas tilt and it takes a lot of muscle to crank them open.
This year to soften everything up and comfortize everything for the club--which always reads poetry on my deck in July--I bought some bright striped Izod sheets and pillowcases--at a deep discount at Nordstrom Rack--to use as handy slipcovers on the old squirrel-torn chair cushions. And I bought some cheap cotton and very cushy bathmats to use as throw rugs. I did it because who knows what I will decide to do up there eventually and why get tied up with fancy new cushions and such? But I can always use sheets and bathmats for their original purpose, once they are nicely washed and put away neatly in the linen closet.