The first part of this story may be found at: https://sharpiron.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/the-old-mans-yard/
Things had been going very well in the old man’s yard. There were plenty of fruits and vegetables, a large grassy lawn for games and big shade trees for when the sun got too hot. The Old Man’s house still sat high up on the hill and every once in a while someone said that they caught a glimpse of him.
The kids got along nicely. Some of them became team captains and they worked hard at coming up with rules for the games and making sure that everyone followed them. This was important because many kids wanted to play (although a quite a few of them just sat and watched).
There were lots of things to do besides playing games. The fence always needed mending. The sound of the traffic on the busy street was noisy and distracting and and there were some kids who still had bad memories. So they decided to plug up all the holes that let in the noise. They made mud out of the dirt in the garden and used it to fill in all the gaps. When they were finished they could hardly hear any of the traffic at all.
They still guarded the gate, looking for kids that needed to be saved and also watching closely for any threats to the community. They needed to be very careful and take care of this wonderful gift that the Old Man and his son had given them. It wouldn’t do well to take any chances with the yard. It needed to be protected.
After a while some of the kids began to notice that there were some very different looking people in the yard. Most of these newcomers were watching the games but a few were playing. Some of them had different colored skin and all of them were wearing funny looking clothes. Intrigued, the curious children checked with the gate keepers and discovered that more of these strange kids could be seen marching along the other side of the busy highway. They rarely took advantage of the shouted invitations to come into the yard. Besides, being on the other side, it was too dangerous to cross. No one knew where these strange children went but it was assumed that they ended up unfortunate victims of the brutal traffic. It was sad, but it was their choice not to come in.
But how were they getting into the yard? There must be a hole in the fence somewhere, but where? A couple of the braver kids decided to go right up to one of the newcomers and ask him. He was wearing white flowing robes with a cloth wound tightly around the top of his head. He also had some sort of tiny bright stone stuck to the side of nose and his skin was very dark.
Three or four kids confronted him; “We think that it’s great that you’re here in the garden, but….how did you get in? You didn’t come through the gate – we were watching.”
“Oh, we just came over the sun bridge” he said, smiling. His voice sounded strange but kind of cool at the same time, sort of like he was singing.
“The sun bridge? What bridge? We’ve been here for a long time and there is only one way in, through the garden gate.”
“Oh no, you can come in by walking over on one of the sun bridges. There are many of them in the back yard, behind the house. Come, I will show you.”
With his long robes flapping behind him, he took off quickly, heading over the shoulder of the hill and towards the back of the old man’s house. He led them to a thick hedge row that separated the front from the back, to a place where numerous paths snaked through the leafy branches. After winding their way through to the other side they entered a big yard very much like the one out front. It too was surrounded by a white picket fence, but there was no gate. On the other side of the fence was another busy highway, except the speeding cars and trucks looked very different from what the children were used to seeing. Most of them were very small and they all were very fast.
Standing a little higher up on the hill they could see over the fence as well as over the road. On the far side was another white picket fence and what looked like some more yards. Inside the yards children could be seen playing and wandering through the gardens. Each of these yards had a gate and all kinds of children wearing all kinds of funny looking clothes could be seen trying to escape the vicious traffic by rushing through the different gates. There also seemed to be a few ‘regular’ looking kids mixed in with them.
There were some more kids, mostly ‘regular’ ones, on the closer side of the road but still outside the fence. Sometimes one or two would dare to cross the busy highway to safety. Most of them, though, clung closely to the picket fence and kept moving onward. If they could avoid the traffic they might make it around front to where the main gate was.
But the most amazing thing was the vision towering over their heads. Shining bright in the sun and climbing high from each garden was a series of light and airy looking bridges. Though no two looked the same they all shared the same elements of grace, beauty and strength evident in good designs. One end of each bridge was anchored in the Old Man’s back yard. Venturing slowly across the bridges, safe above the roaring traffic, could be seen streams of the exotic foreign children, their bright colorful clothing shining in the sun. Once over, these ‘new’ children walked around dazedly, staring wide eyed at the novel surroundings. Then they slowly made their way up the hillside towards the hedge. Amazed, the ‘older’ children were taking all of this in when suddenly their young turbaned guide began to wave happily at some of the people. He ran swiftly down to meet them.
“My son finished building those bridges just before he died.”
The children jumped in surprise. Standing right behind them and looking over their shoulders stood the Old Man. There were some tears in his eyes but he was smiling.
“You see, children,” he said. “My son and I understood that not all of you live close to the front gate. And the traffic became so bad that it was very hard for anyone to make it there safely. So we laid out some more yards, just like yours, on their side of the highway. We put up picket fences for safety and each one has its own gate. They have all the fruits and vegetables and trees and games that you children enjoy. It is so much easier for them to make it to safety, since the gates are on their side of the street. So many more are being saved. Sadly, though, some still choose to remain outside.”
“But what about the bridges?” the children asked.
“Well, even though their yards are safe and I provide them with all they need to live comfortably, my house is way over here, in this yard. When they look up, they can see my house and many of them want to come over. I do very much want them to come stay with me so there needed to be some way for them to reach me. They can’t do it on their own. So my son built these bridges, from their yard to mine. It can be scary for them but when they learn to trust in the bridge’s strength it becomes easier.”
“But what will happen when all those other kids come in? Will there be enough room in the yard for the rest of us?” The children looked very nervous.
“Don’t you worry about that. And don’t you worry about them, either. I’ll make sure that there is plenty for everyone. Later, when it gets dark, we can all go up to my house. I have comfy rooms waiting for everyone. I also have a great surprise for you. Though you will remember my son giving up his life to save you – He still lives! Yes, right now he is up in my big house, busy building additional rooms for all of you. My son, you see, is quite the carpenter.”
“So, children, go and greet your new friends. And try to play nice.”