The more I live in our house the more I enjoy living in our house. There are many pleasurable aspects of our dwelling, but two that stand out on these muggy summer days are: that our house faces east and that the backyard has a full canopy of trees to shade it.
What that means for me is that I can step out on the front porch early in the morning and enjoy the new rays of the rising sun. And then as the rays turn to scorch on days like this, I can step out into the backyard, which is always about ten degrees cooler than the frontyard thanks to the trees and its westward bearing.
By the afternoon, our tall roof blocks the withering sunlight from the frontyard--making the front comfortably cool once again--and the trees still obstruct the rays in the back. As the sun sets in the evening, the trees filter its light, which dances across the glowing western cedar fence. Likewise, the trunks, boughs, and branches cast long, nostalgic shadows.
There are only three or four trees in the back yard, but they are huge. The guy who built our fence told me that they are probably 100 to 200 years old. They are all hackberries, which are notorious for shedding leaves before fall sets in and which provide annoying starlings with lots of purple berries to process and to deposit on our cars, but right now they are a godsend and they create an urban oasis of relief from the heat and a mythology of early evening luminance.
In the winter, the bright morning sun heats the chilly front up quite nicely and since there are no leaves on the trees in the back, it gets enough sunlight to warm it up as morning gives way to afternoon. We've still got a long way to go to develop flower beds and put in other trees, but the bones are perfect and I could not and would not wish for anything better.