Lately, I had been taking my yard for granted. It was just a place for my house. I think the heavy layer of elm leaves made me wish to go into denial about the yard. Whomever, decades ago, planted the dozen elm trees did not take into consideration the feelings of a future resident of the lot.
Recently, I spent the better portion of a day and a half raking leaves from the yard. It was the second harvest of what usually ends up being three harvests of leaves. The third raking is usually an optional one. This year, the third go will be necessary because the trees had a growth spurt, hence even more leaves. If I was a corn farmer, this would be a bin-busting harvest.
I’m not a corn farmer nor any kind of farmer. I did imagine that I was a leaf farmer. I have a bounty of fresh, crisp, yellow leaves. But there’s no market for them. Everybody else in the neigborhood has their own bountiful yield. In fact, part of their yield will be finding a way to blow into my yard, adding to my third raking. Joy!
I rake my yard the old fashioned way. I have a broom rake made of steel tines. For variety, sometimes there’s one made of bamboo tines. I know the job would go much quicker with one of those large riding mowers with a spacious collection compartment. I would be finished in a couple of hours instead of the day and a half.
I can’t justify owning such a mower, nor do I have the room to store one. No, rakes are just fine. They give me a chance to get really close to the yard. Rakes are even better than the simple walk-behind mower that I use during the hot months of the year. The rakes and the push mower allow me to know every bump and depression of the land.
My yard is sort of a combination between civilized yard and countryside wildness. I don’t use poisonous chemicals to control weeds and insects. Using a garden rake and my mower is good enough. I’m glad to not contribute to the pollution of the adjacent river. My yard has become somewhat of a sanctuary to small creatures like rabbits, squirrels and songbirds. The lack of poison has allowed my yard to yield food for the critters.
My yard is a haven for me, too. Sometimes I like to just stand around and take in the natural beauty of town and country, both at the same time. I notice certain individual creatures and when they come around to forage or beg. The squirrels are the most obvious animals, we’re always fast friends. Just the other day, one of the larger squirrels wrangled with an old plastic supermarket bag. He struggled to bring it up a tree to reenforce his nest. The wind spoiled his plans when it caught the bag and blew it to the ground.
There is one rabbit who hangs around nibbling on the greenery. She has become familiar with my habits and movements, too. I noticed recently that she is taking shelter between the house and the air conditioning unit.
There is one particular blue jay who arrives in the morning for his daily ration of food. I discovered by accident that he really enjoys garlic bread. My first intention was to supplement the squirrels’ feeding with it. But one day, I saw the blue jay tearing away at the chunk. He kept returning until a squirrel claimed the rest. The jay was not pleased. Now, I make sure to have garlic bread for my little blue friend.
I know that I am very fortunate to live on such a yard. Some folks, I know, don’t have any yard for which to care and enjoy. Then again, most people I know have yards but aren’t located close to nature. Theirs are more cultivated and groomed. I guess that sort of yard fits in better with their neighborhoods.
I could live in the countryside, but that would leave me far from the convenience of the town. I’m glad to be in a part of town that seems to be more outside of town. Where I live is quiet and slightly wild. I’m happy to see a hawk, ducks and maybe racoons when they decide to explore the edge of Norfolk.
I love ambiguity and unconventionality, so the yard and I get along quite well together.
The Blue Jay of Happiness notes that the garlic loving blue jay has apparently migrated south this winter.