Your Backyard: A Benign Obession
Your backyard getaway
My childhood would have been very different if I did not live in what, seemed at the time, to be a house with a big backyard.
When I was very young my mother used to put me in my carriage and place it outside the backdoor. She would check on my now and then and the family dog was right there beside me.
I do not remember much about those days but do recall the years following, fondly.
The backyard is where I found out about compost and gardening; where I romped with my dog Scrappy and where the three large maple trees lived. The backyard is wher e I first met trees and became enchanted by their size and changing nature.
On hot summer days I spent hours under those trees either playing in the sandbox or swinging on the old tire my father had tied to an overhanging branch.
On occasion I’d attempt to climb the trees but only one was readily climbable. I sit on the same branch that held the swing and feel the breeze flow through the leaves and listen to the sound they made.
Over the years the backyard was the setting for numerous BBQs, picnics, outdoor suppers and just simply kicking back with friends and family.
In my preteen years my friends and I would sit down the back, farthest away from the house and talk.
It was a gathering place.
Your backyard is a setting that is unique unto yourself and your needs. We grew tomatoes and flowers as well as played badminton and croquet and the picnic table my father built was well used.
My father had also built a combination laundry stand and shed. The garbage cans went in the shed and you climbed the steps to put out the laundry on the line that ran the full length of the backyard.
I used to play pirates and pretend the stand was the deck of the ship as it offered a commanding view of the whole yard.
Our dogs and cats spent their time outside with us and were woven into all the activities that took place.
How you design your backyard depends upon your family’s needs and interests.
You can incorporate outdoor rooms for entertaining with play areas for both humans and pets along with gardens, if you have the space or you may have to make a choice about which is most important.
I believe children, at least in their early years, need a backyard; it is a safe place to play as long as someone responsible is watching them.
You can add lighting, solar powered, if you wish, that allows the family to spend evenings outdoors when the weather permits.
Your backyard can be an extension of your home, and you can enjoy the benefits of an outdoor fireplace, while sitting on comfortable furniture that is specifically designed for being outdoors. You can also cover over an outdoor room and enjoy outdoor living even in wet and windy weather.
Or you can convert the whole space into a food forest and grow much of the food that your family needs. There are many options between these two.
What is most important is that it is your space, you sanctuary away from the everyday world. Indulge yourself and allow the child you once were when you first stepped into that big backyard to come out and play again.
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Birds in Backyards is a research, education and conservation program.
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