June 25, 2014

McClusky Yard of history


Clifford and Marvel Neff have a yard that at first glance, seems small. That is before you pass under the giant cottonwoods, pass by the ironwork bears, and greet the wood cat bearing the welcome sign.

The yard, enclosed by huge trees, is shaded and peaceful. Every tree, plant and flower has its own story, a history of planting, gifts, family and friends.

In the back of the yard a line of evergreens show the progression and replacement of the trees, now tall around the power pole that stands alongside, dwarfed by the biggest evergreen close by its side. Clifford relates how Ottertail lineman and supervisor Clifford Becker came one day to trim the trees that lined the path of the electric service. He was told kindly to get out of the yard; that he wasn’t going to cut on the trees.

Becker came back, an underground line was run, and service continued to the Neff home and that of their neighbor to the west. The 58-year old evergreen continued its reign over the yard.

A smaller evergreen, the baby of the line, is replacing the Colorado blue spruce that "didn’t make it," to put it kindly. Another beauty of the same type of tree shows what "baby" will look like in a few years, though Marvel remarked they might not live to see it get as big as the others.

The yard, their home since 1955, is a planted legend of their life: ironwork by Max Neff; gifts of iron and wood cats; a stray live cat that came to live after a year under an outside building. That cat, black and named "Spot" for the small mark on his front, lives among his friends, but only them. Others are shunned.

Behind the petunias, begonias and neatly lined front flowers, is the house that holds a den, former bedroom of their now grown and gone daughter Claudia, and the "woman cave," the snug and comforting room that was built for Marvel. Here she can be super warm, with open windows to the south allowing light year round and a place to watch the outdoors and pass time with the hobby of choice that day.

The Weather Network