So I've just passed my first full week off work. I wish I could say it was a flurry of great productivity, but it wasn't.
Which is fine. That isn't exactly the point of it all.
But what it has been, is a slow sort of wandering around my thoughts...and the garden.
We've had fox trouble, so I've been making my presence known, hoping that will be enough of a deterrent. She's made off with three of our older Ladies and one of the young ones [edited to add, two...:(]. It's an utter swine, this free-ranging thing....the perils and the pay-offs are in stark contrast...but, all things said and done, I couldn't - wouldn't - do it any differently.
The thing is, in addition to our free-ranging, all-you-can-eat feathered buffet, we have a significant wild edge.
Perfect for lurking, stealth-ninja predatory types.
We stopped mowing the large stretch around the pond a couple of years ago. I'd love to say it was a decision based on high ecological standards but it was actually because the riding mower that our landlord had provided konked out. Another one wasn't forthcoming so that meant using the push-mower.
Suddenly we only really needed a footpath-sized strip so we could do our walks. :)
That's when I started to notice all of the magical things that were happening as the edges grew wild.
The milkweed population has exploded, as have several species of native shrubs -- nannyberry, highbush cranberry -- as well as all of the red clover and native grasses. None of which really got a chance to flourish when it was all mown down.
Of course, there was the incident last summer when our well-meaning neighbour cut the whole lot while we were on holiday (cue weeping) but other than that, the area is untouched.
Walking down the path, especially now when the grasses are getting high, is the most delicious experience. Surrounded on all sides, it's like walking into another world. It's so busy, so full of bird people and insect people. We've had two families of Canada Geese using it to hide their young ones and there are always rustlings and slitherings as we walk through, often followed by ploppings as Something hops back into the water. (probably members of the muskrat family). I just hug myself with the joy of it all.
I've since started 'cultivating' wild edges in the kept-garden areas too. Again, only partly-planned, I must admit. I went on a tear, widening the beds last year and then they got away from me. I decided I rather liked the raggedy, "unkempt" look and so am carrying on with it.
It makes me grin to think of my Grandad's reaction to it.
There's two butterfly bushes in the back of all that, along with the bee-balm that I transplanted, but beyond that, it's mostly dandelions, wild strawberry and young asters and goldenrod. I think I'll fling a few packets of wildflower mix in there in the autumn and see what comes up.
That's sort of the magic of it, though, don't you think? The wondering and watching; the noticing and then the learning to do things just a bit better, a bit more mindfully, rather than following on with the status quo. Because that's what mowing around the pond was all about...that's how it was when we moved in, so we just carried on.
I'm happy to see that it's becoming more of a Thing, this leaving an unmown zone. I suspect it's not without its issues, though, particularly in more urban/suburban areas where there's sort of an unspoken (and sometimes by-law enforced) rule about Keeping Your Garden Neat and Tidy.
I often wonder how I'd get on with my neighbours if we lived somewhere where it wasn't okay to have dandelions and long, waving grasses.
I think, perhaps, they wouldn't appreciate my philosophies. ;)
But they might forgive me when I came around with a bowl full of giant, luscious strawberries and a bottle of dandelion wine. And then we could chat about how forgiving the earth is and how marvelous that she responds so quickly and generously when we show her even the smallest kindness.