From the outset my intention was to create a garden where various creatures would feel and be safe. One of my first considerations was the dogs. Border Collies need ample room to run. They just do. Those of you familiar with the breed will testify that they are very high energy dogs and need to express that energy or they will become, well, unhappy and destructive. The simple act of chasing a ball and returning with it will do. Over and over again, several times each day. So that was first on my list, a place where Conner (and later Ruby) could safely play. The garden is a block deep, and well fenced in. Perfect blessing.
I also wanted privacy, and as long ago the original owner of this charming craftsman house was president of the local garden club, as I mentioned recently, I benefitted greatly that her plantings had reached full maturity. Thus the fig tree, the apple tree, the plum tree, the myrtle, the forsythia, the rose arbor, the high fencing and the many trumpet vines all helped encase the deep yard with a dense wall of greenery and protection. I have only added to that with abundant bamboo, butterfly bush and mallow. Augmenting the insular aura is a patch of forest like greenery in the back half of the south side of the yard. Yes, we are quite protected.
Within this lovely field there is the critical element of the invitation. Who would find themselves welcomed, and how would they know? The butterflies will recognize the invitation of the butterfly bush.
Then there are the scrubjays. Longtime readers will recall I have become very fond of a family of scrubjays now having thoroughly claimed this garden as their own. I have witnessed now three years of nesting and fledges. But this year is different and very very special. This year the three fledglings have really never left, and have very specific patterns of using the garden, which they do very boldly. Early in the morning they squawk about the kitchen windows, just beyond where their birth nest lay, reminding me it clearly is time for their share of my peanuts. Oh, yes. I leave shelled peanuts on the sidewalk in clear view, and whistle, and within moments they land on the fence to verify their breakfast is ready.
They are charming and endearing, bringing an early morning smile to my lips. Once this ritual has been performed they seem to take off about the neighborhood, but always by mid-morning they appear in the back garden where they basically take over. If the dogs come out, they do not fly away. Oh, no. They are more likely to protest, as it is clearly their turn. We usually oblige. They bathe in the birdbath. They poop on all the lawn furniture. Yes, they do. And they scratch about in the ground, eat ripe plums from the plum tree, and bask in the morning sun on the morning glory arches. I am honored and deeply gladdened that they feel so utterly safe in the sanctity of the garden to such a degree that they have made it their own. They have a sense of place and I am inordinately blessed to have been the recipient of their trust.
Another early morning visitor, the most precious one of all, is my daughter who is currently here in transition. It is her morning habit to meditate in the garden and on more than one occasion she has opened her eyes to find all three scrub jays sitting on three chairs that stand nearby where she sits, calmly watching her. The sheer thought of it warms my heart that such a place has been created where this lovely interaction might take place.
For all of this I am deeply grateful. But most of all I cherish the sanctuary that the garden has become for all those I hold dear, all creatures great and small. In the early morning it is the place I turn to awaken my body, my heart and soul. In the depth of the day I can turn away from the computer, from my activities as book publicist and writer and sit in the shade of the mulberry tree or warm in the gentle sun, taking in the sounds of the local critters: squirrels, my scrubbies, the crows and an owl who has recently joined the chorus. Filled up I can resume the day, ready for a virtual urban environment, nurtured and softened by the treasures of my garden, just outside the back door.
What sanctuaries do you hold dear, turn to, that fill you up, dear readers? Are you so blessed, as you so deserve?
Love and gardening blessings,
Posted on July 12th, 2009 by Kathryn
Filed under: Sacred places