Vacant Lot

Dear Lake, when you were small there was an empty lot next door. We could look out above the kitchen sink in spring and see a bower of flowers.

I write this because it could very well have a big house built upon it before Lake is old enough to recall.

The vacant lot has a bit of the wild in it. A bit of untamed free space. Naturalized. Something defiant in the vacancy, in the thick of the urban density.

Our next door lot harkens me back to the vacant corner lot adjacent to the spot where Nana grew up in Spokane on Cliff Drive. Eventually my grandparents did purchase it. Thinking to save it from building, to preserve it as a conservation corner. In a strange twist of fate, their vacant lot and the double lot with their home on it, sold after my grandfather died to a developer who bulldozed the entirety and posted it for sale as three lots for building about ten years ago. In some ways the vacant lot is the only thing that this remains unchanged. It took some courage to re-visit the now entirely vacant lot, where the house my mother grew up in once sat, and where my brother and I would visit my grandparents in the winters. I made this pilgrimage on October 19th 2009. My photographer friend Stephen Chalmers commemorated the scene with a collection entitled Pics For Sweet Tolle (of a house which wasn’t there) 10-19-2009.




My grandfather used to grow crops on the vacant lot. Mostly potatoes. Sometimes other vegetables, too, like garlic.  Both my grandparents liked to watch the birds there. My brother tells me the for sale properties are still standing there vacant. Naturalized. I think the vacant lot adjacent to our new house has been that way approximately the same length of time. The neighbors tell us the house burned down about ten years ago and it’s been vacant ever since. I dream of farming potatoes and garlic and kale there. For now I look out the kitchen window and I wonder what the future holds for this Secret Garden, this unbridled riot of flora, this proud and humble vacant lot.

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