Twenty years ago I bought a home in a small village in a rural area. I wanted the rural experience and I figured this would be the time in my life to do it. I was in my early forties, and the opportunity presented itself to live in beautiful agriculture setting so I took it. I had never dealt with a septic system or having a well, yet it seemed a part of this quasi country life. (We were only 3 miles from a big box store. )
My dog and I loved the dirt trails, miles and miles of them. I loved the smells of the earth, the abundant fruit trees with dripping apricots, apples, peaches one could scoop up. I even enjoyed learning about the land, the land in my yard, which was sand actually. I was amazed at what can grow in sandy soil. And how parts of my yard can look like actual beach sand. And how hard I might try to grow certain plants like hollyhocks or Spanish broom but they would never take. But then a mulberry tree springs up all on its’ own.
I tend to let nature do much of what she wants. I figure if something living knows how to grow and is tenacious enough to thrive, then I work around it. Unless it is an Elm Tree close to the house. Their roots are large, seek water and can destroy or crumble anything in its path. I love them for shade especially when nothing else will grow. In 100 F degree temperatures we need shade, so I did let some Elms grow. But now they need to come down as their roots are bubbling up the brick patio, and one of their trunks is bursting through the wood fence, like a superhero.
There was a time I enjoyed taking care of the yard. It was fun and novel, and maybe I was putting my stamp on it. It was all sand in the yard, blowing sand and some wild sage bushes. Over time I had help in designing the patio, adding grass to keep the sandy dust down, and recently adding a shade structure. Yet in between those projects I planted, raked, hefted, sorted, fertilized, pruned, chopped, dug, painted, watered and repaired. I enjoyed the effort and the sense of accomplishment. Lately though, I enjoy a well cared for yard, yet I don’t seem to have the interest anymore to do it myself. I wonder, is that an age thing, or I’ve had the experience and want to spend my time differently?
I know lots of avid gardeners of all ages. I was never an avid gardener. I got involved in the yard as a new kind of experience while I had the energy. Now I’ve had the experience. I know what it takes to maintain a happy yard. I had a daydream as I washed dishes, looking out the kitchen window to my pretty yard, what if my view was from the fifth floor of an apartment, and I had no lawn to worry about? You know, there was a kind of lightness in that thought, of living somewhere with no pests sneaking inside, no roaches, ants, mice or centipedes. I accept pests and yard work as part of rural life, yet I sense the idea of living a simplified urban life is gaining appeal.