Is there something you feel you “should” be doing?
Why do you feel that way?
Recently I was reminded of how important it is to ask that question.
We have always left our backyard “natural” but made sure to cultivate and mow the front yard so the neighbors would not be upset. There are regulations in our neighborhood, as there are in most, that the grass needs to be cut to a reasonable length each week.
This makes sense. But I could never bring myself to cultivate the backyard. Without cultivation the backyard is covered in wild grapevines, wild raspberry and mulberry bushes, and wild mint. The fence is hidden by honeysuckle and other greenery has trimmed the gazebo with pretty red berries and bright green vines.
But looking at all the other backyards I can see we are the only ones. So the sense of guilt stays. I think to myself, “I really should do something about this.” and I can’t really completely relax and enjoy it.
With cultivation you see a neatly mowed lawn, a few flowers and some rocks. It looks very neat, cared for, pretty and organized. My neighbor is a master gardener. And so is everyone else in my neighborhood. And they give out prizes every year for the best year.
It is not surprising, then, that I could never really get rid of that nagging feeling that I should be doing something with my backyard.
But I still resisted. Every Christmas I continued to put our old tree out by the back fence to be covered in vines and provide wildlife refuge. This year I even planted a 9′ x 12′ plot of wildflowers in May.
With that final decision it seemed that perhaps I was heading towards finally fully enjoying a guilt-free backyard.
Until I met Tanya (not her real name). Tanya is an amazing woman with a beautiful energy who told me about her garden and how she had created it to be a place she could retreat to. She described the carefully cultivated paths, the stones, the waterfalls and the care she put into it each day. I was in awe of her dedication. And the pictures of her garden were breathtaking.
My guilt and feeling of “inadequacy” as a gardener were renewed.
So I asked her for some tips and vowed, once again, to “get with the program” and “do something about that backyard garden!” Once and for all I was going to get that backyard garden under control.
With that goal in mind I sat in the Gazebo last week and I looked around to make a mental list of what needed to be done. But all I could think was how much I loved what Mother Nature had done all on her own. She had actually used a honeysuckle vine to create a little “cave” near an old stump and she had covered the old chicken coop in a gorgeous green grape leaf. She had even woven little red berries into my fence and gazebo.
Each thing I looked at I thought, “Well, that can’t go. That is too beautiful”.
I finally gave up. I decided I would call the gardening company Tanya had recommended and get them to give me some advice. Perhaps they could figure out a way to get the place “under control”.
Then the buck came.
The first morning we woke him at 7am. He had been sleeping near the honeysuckle cave and the old stump. He looked quite reluctant to leave and I was a bit sad to have to let the beagle out and see the buck jump over the fence and go on his way. I thought I might not see him again.
But we did. The next day he was there until we opened the back door at 9:30am. He was gorgeous. And he looked so relaxed and comfortable. He was not eager to leave when he saw us open the inner door but left with reluctance when we finally opened the screen door after I took a photo (see above).
And as I gazed at this photo later I saw in his eyes what I should have seen all of these years quite clearly on my own. This garden was his garden. He was not sleeping in my backyard. I was sleeping in his backyard. And by giving the garden back to him and his friends I had provided them with yet more more refuge in this cityscape that was quickly eating up their natural habitat.
To me, that was one hundred times more important than having a lawn that looks like my neighbors or a backyard that is cultivated for any purpose.
It looks like the landscaping company will be helping me only with the front yard this year. And instead of looking for ways to cultivate the back I will start looking for more ways to create refuge and peace for the wildlife in our neighborhood.
So after years of lingering, my guilt and yearning for a different garden vanished as quickly as the buck jumping over the vine-covered fence this morning.
Now ask yourself once again.
Is there something you “should” be doing?*
Why do you think you “should” be doing it?
Perhaps read this little story again with your “should” thing in mind. Does this story sound more familiar to you now?
And if you need support be sure to check out what we have to offer at The BEarth Institute Shop that can support you in following your heart.
*(Sending your kids to public school instead of homeschooling? Following a more perfect schedule instead of un-schooling? Creating the perfect Waldorf toy room? Being a different kind of parent? Eating different foods? Spending time on different hobbies? Going to a certain club? Having your child participate in that certain activity? Joining the group you “should” join…?)