Looking for a destination now that Colin has to log some serious time behind the wheel, we head out to my Aunt Laurie's place for some green space and laughs. She's nearly an hour away--just the western suburbs, but that feels like a million miles when you are with a student driver. So, after a harried ride on the highway under construction, we needed some rest and a few hours to regain our composure. No better a place than Aunt Laurie's peaceful oasis of green gardens, towering trees, and unconditional love. And my cousin, Kelly, was going to be home too--what luck!
Aunt Laurie's property is spacious and lovely. I don't remember how much property is there (almost an acre?), but neighbors are far and it is quiet. You don't see a soul when you are out in the back. There are about a billion trees and the girls have been spiffing up the gardens to make the place a sanctuary. There is a fire pit waaaayyy in the back with some handmade log benches just the perfect height for roasting marshmallows. There are hostas aplenty and green grass galore. I keep threatening a camp-out as this place screams "vacation".
We walk the perimeters ooohhing and aaahhing the various gardens--this one is the hosta garden, this one is Kelly's garden, this is Uncle Tom's garden, etc. Each one has it's own identity, as sun and shade are both prevalent thanks to a wicked wind storm that wiped out a few trees last year. It's the Donahue Botanical Gardens, and we are lucky they don't charge admission.
The peace is disturbed by the loud thundering of the Bumpus Hounds thumping down the deck stairs. There are three of them, although they sound more like a hundred in number. They love the yard and terrorize its inhabitants. Squirrels run for cover when they hear the roar. Chipmunks cower in their holes. Birds scatter. It is both frightening and funny to watch these beasts charge the yard with their tongues a-flailing.
Named appropriately after the pack of dogs in the movie "A Christmas Story", these three are everywhere. Rosie runs from person to person, licking everyone. You can't move for this lovable beast is right there, demanding love and attention at every turn. She looks ferocious, but is a giant marshmallow. Belle is full of energy and busies herself in digging holes everywhere--much to the chagrin of the gardeners. Her face is covered in dirt in mud and she smiles a muddy dog smile at us, smugly dismissing orders to quit. Bailey is in his (?) later years and isn't as wild as the other two. But he tags along, doesn't want to miss out on any fun.
We sit on the deck, overseeing the yard, and laugh as these three romp around like fools. Forget TV, they provide enough entertainment for hours. We laugh at the dogs, silly family stories, and Kelly's comments. My kids love this place and Aunt Laurie and Kelly. It is fresh air, lovely scenary, and loads of laughs. It is extended family and good food.
The dogs finally pass out on the deck and Baily is in the house on his pillow. They start to snore and it's the sign that it's time to load up and stress ourselves out on the highway once again.