Amazingly, it has been six years since the publication of my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden! In honor of this anniversary I am sharing the final chapter of my book with you today. It will not go unnoticed that this chapter speaks to diversity, which I cherish, as do all gardeners and travelers, alike. I hope you will enjoy.
In addition, Goodreads is hosting a Giveaway of three copies of my book. There are five days left to enter. Please enter and good luck!
Love and garden blessings,
Know and Include a Wide Variety of Species in Your Garden
I don’t know where the expression Pig Heaven comes from, but whenever
I have lived in the country, that’s where I’ve been. In Pig Heaven.
One of the greatest joys of having lived at the end of a dirt road on four
acres of property in the woods was that I really could have as many animals
as I wanted — and was surrounded by other people’s animals, as
well as the ones who lived there in their natural habitat. We lived among
them, I often reminded myself. They arrived first, and I tried to abide
respectfully with that in the front of my mind.
My own extended creature tribe grew to include that gorgeous Bantam
rooster, Chanticleer, whom you will recall I found camped out bravely
in the woods, wisely next to a stream, and his girlfriend, Henny Penny;
two English budgies; the 23 canaries; the cats: spunky old Amelia and
my precious Honeypot, and later, Luna, the Maine Coon showcat and
my beloved Border Collies, Moxie and Peaches.
Adding to my joy were my neighbors’ animals with whom I shared
various fences. I fondly visited Cheyenne the donkey, whose pasture
butted up against my apple orchard near the entrance to my property.
Handy for her. And how I treasured the 32-year-old sway back horse
belonging to my German neighbors who lived just below, all without the
direct and daily responsibilities of taking care of either of them. I was
like the auntie, who called friendly greetings and offered the occasional
apple, allowing them to munch their way to their own Pig Heaven.
One of my very favorite adventures with Cheyenne was the day I
decided to include her in a photo shoot I did for a visiting Mexican
mariachi band in exchange for their playing their lively music at my
daughter’s 30th birthday party. The band returned a week later in full
costume, complete with black embroidered jackets and wide matching
sombreros and I marched them all down to the orchard in the hot sun
and lined them up along the fence, with Cheyenne occupying the center
of the photos. I take great delight knowing she is likely now gracing
the cover of this mariachi band’s latest CD somewhere in Guadalajara,
unbeknownst to her owners.
Not limited to domestic animals, my kingdom included a restless fox
who arrived on Christmas Eve only to pace up and down the dirt drive
that ran before my front door for a full ten minutes. I don’t know why.
Deer traipsed through almost daily, including a spectacular young buck
with large proud points who allowed me to photograph him one bright
spring afternoon as he stood alertly facing me in the garden in front of
my guest cabin. Wild turkeys came often and voraciously cleaned up
the corn spill from Chanti and Henny Penny’s pens. They would surround
the pens in a scarf of feathers and give new meaning to the word
gobble, and having eaten the last crumb, would depart, only to return
to scavenge another day. Coyotes threaded their way through the warp
and woof of daily life in the woods. Each bore different energies, and
different agendas, a good lesson. Some could be trusted. Others certainly
could not and I would protectively draw the cats closer to the hearth.
As each animal crossed my path I researched. I hit the Net. I looked
them up. I read about each one, expanding my knowledge of their habits,
their lives, their inclinations. I dispelled wives’ tales I’d heard as a child.
I educated neighbors who eyed their guns when the coyotes and wild
turkeys passed through. I learned to better trust my own instincts. This
coyote is here for apples. That one is here for cats or anything else it can
churn into energy to survive.
Sitting on the bank one afternoon just out of reach beyond the flimsy
wire fence sat, what? A cat? No. A grey fox. Staring at me. I retired to the
house, somewhat shaken. Still, the frame of the sighting was precious.
Strangers’ cats crossed the land. Neighbors’ cows drifted in. And out.
A mouse in the toilet at 2:00 AM. Really. I had almost sat down but
noticed an unfamiliar shadow in the bowl, illuminated by the nightlight
and turned on the overhead light just in time. What to do? Call the
dogs. Sleepily the dogs peek into the toilet bowl. What do you want us
to do? Do something! They try to rouse from their slumber, eyes barely
open. It’s a mouse. Yes, I know it’s a mouse. In my toilet. Help me out.
They try to respond but it’s beyond their comprehension at this hour.
A simple mouse. In the toilet. They go back to bed. In sleepy desperation,
I flush the toilet. Twice. It’s gone. Sometimes the most expedient
and obvious solution is not what you really would want to have chosen
under other conditions.
These adventures are now a firm part of my world, richly included
among the many joys of my life. I deeply treasure having lived in the
woods on the edge of the unknown, sharing my life, my chapters within
the natural habitat of other creatures, my heart expanding with each
interaction, as each lovely one entered the stage of my life, sharing with
me, gracing me with their exquisite presence.
Each and every adventure I have chosen, dear readers, held within it
the power to expand, to teach. The more I risked, the wider and more
diversely I chose, the richer my experience and the more precious the
gift. I have been so blessed. Aren’t we all?