Three years ago we purchased a gazebo for our patio. In addition to giving us some shady, bug-free outdoor living space, we hoped it would protect our dining room from the harsh afternoon sun. We bought a couple of patio chairs, added an old end table, and hung a basket full of trailing flowers at the peak of the roof. We planned to add a two-person swing when our funds permitted. It was a lovely little sitting area.
One morning I awoke at my customary hour and stumbled out to the kitchen for some water. Something was different. I couldn't put my finger on it. I turned around slowly in place. No, the dishes were still piled in the sink in their typical state of unwash. The garbage can was still stacked to the top. Junk mail and empty cereal boxes still littered the dining room table. What was different?
I peaked out the sliding door onto the patio. Hmmm... patio chairs were still there as was the end table. I noted that one of our potted plants had been knocked over by the windstorm that began the night before and was still furiously blowing around the house. "I'd better move those plants so they don't get totally destroyed," I thought.
My bathrobe began to flap around my ankles as I stepped out of the house and looked up at the steel-gray sky. The wind chilled my bones and I mused, "Looks like it's going to rain today...look at those clouds...they're so big and black and OH MY GOSH! Sweet mother of a badger! WHERE IS MY GAZEBO!"
My gazebo was gone. Disappeared without a trace. Vanished like the fine morning mist. Where it had stood, there was... nothing. Just open sky. Sky that I should not have been able to see due to the fact that my gazebo should have been covering me.
"What the... Who the heck would steal a gazebo?" I tiptoed around the back of the house, wary that the gazebo thief might still be lurking in the backyard. He would have accomplices, I was sure and I wasn't sure if I could fight off two or three wanton criminals in my bathrobe with my hair whipping around in my face.
The backyard was empty, though. No hardened criminals. No gazebo.
"Maybe there's a clue out front...maybe I'll find some tire tracks or bloodstains or something," I thought.
Yeah. There was a big clue out front in the form of a mass of twisted aluminum which I surmised must have once been my stately gazebo. Apparently, the wind during the night had been sufficient to lift my 10'x10' gazebo completely off the patio, carry it over a 6-foot redwood fence, and twist it almost inside-out before smashing it down in the middle of my front lawn.
I reacted like any normal person would. "Brett! Brett! Wake up! We've got to get this gazebo off the front lawn before the neighbors see! Hurry! Oh gosh. I wonder how long it's been out there. People have probably been driving by all morning and laughing. Ack! Help me!"
Together, Brett and I wrestled apart the mangled posts and rods until we could remove the corpse to a more suitable resting place, in the backyard, away from the prying eyes of the neighbors.
I guess the ropes and stakes that were provided (which we promptly discarded) when we purchased the gazebo were actually supposed to help anchor it to the ground on windy days. Who knew?
The next summer, when the sun began to scorch our dining room again, my mom called and told us that she'd found a similar gazebo on sale. She was going to buy one for herself and she wanted to know if we wanted one, as well. Being older and wiser to the care and feeding of gazebos, we felt that we were responsible enough to try again, so we agreed.
The new gazebo had an extra vent at the top which seemed to be a bonus feature. We pondered this vent and promptly concluded that the lack of this vent on our other gazebo was what led to its early demise. Surely, a gazebo with a vented top would not be carried away in a windstorm, but we were not about to take chances. After completing the assembly, we weighted down each side with weights borrowed from Brett's dumbbell collection. No way this gazebo would be blowing away. Not with a vented top and 40 pounds of metal on each corner.
We enjoyed the new gazebo all summer and in the fall, when the winds started to blow, we congratulated ourselves that our patio decor had remained intact.
Intact, that is, until one beautiful day the next spring when birds sang to a clear blue sky and not even a gentle breeze ruffled the budding trees, I arrived home and found the gazebo collapsed in a heap on the patio. This time, there was no explanation. It was as if the gazebo had simply given up the will to live and crumbled to the ground. Disgusted and unwiling to give this second traitor-gazebo a proper burial, we dragged it to the corner of the yard where it remains to this day, unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
The next summer, we purchased a super-UV blocking screen door for the sliding glass door. It worked almost better than either gazebo for keeping the sun out and the house cool. I was done with gazebos forever, I thought.
On Labor Day, Brett returned from the sporting goods store with a new swimming suit, several pairs of shorts, and ... a gazebo. This was a different type of gazebo, though. Instead of being like a room with decorative supports and mosquito-netting walls, this was just a sun shade. It was made to be portable and could be set up and taken down fairly easily. Brett said it was on sale (50% off) and he could use it at some of his DJ events. We set it up on the patio where its forefathers had stood during the summers before. Since it provided a nice, shady spot for the dogs to rest while we were gone, we left it there.
Yesterday, as in the Octobers of yore, the wind began to blow. I mentioned to Brett that we should lower the gazebo, and maybe put it away, just in case, ha ha. I didn't really think it would blow away since it was quite a bit heavier that either of the other two and the wind wasn't really that strong. We were both running late for work, so we left it up... just for a few hours.
That night when I got home, the gazebo was gone, presumably packed up and put in storage for the winter. I told Brett I appreciated it and asked if he'd had any trouble taking it down by himself.
He was very, very quiet.
"Well..." he began eventually.
"Oh, ha ha ha. Very funny. Don't try to act like this one blew away, too. I'm too smart to fall for that."
He was very, very quiet.
"I didn't have time before work..." he started again.
"I know. We were both running late. You're not saying... No, you're kidding. I can see it in your eyes. You're kidding. You're kidding, right? RIGHT?"
"It was in the rosebushes when I got home."
"NO, IT WASN'T. STOP KIDDING AROUND."
I thought if I acted like I believed his little tale, that he'd come clean with the truth. "Okay. So it was in the rosebushes. Was it broken?" I said, waiting for him to break into a smile.
"Just a little. I think we can fix it," he replied solemnly.
"NO FREAKING WAY! You're not kidding, are you?"
"No. I'm serious."
I'm beginning to think we are just not supposed to have a gazebo on our patio. Really. I'm not kidding. I'm just now BEGINNING to think that.