Backyard Serenity: A Moment With Bill Reflection
Getting Away from It All
Where is your safe harbor? Where do you go to escape the rat race of everyday living?
“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter - a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.”
When I was younger I found that “art of balance” in the mountains. There, surrounded by the majesty of towering peaks, I could find my spirituality. There I could lay down among the wildflowers and listen to the wind gently caress the pines and firs, and understand serenity.
Some people dread the advancing years, and in truth the physical changes are not of my liking. Still, a modicum of wisdom accompanies the shadows of late middle age, and with that wisdom comes a sense of peace. Life is not hectic for me today. Life is not troublesome or worrisome, and the frown lines of old have been replaced by the lines of laughter. My face today resembles a granite cliff, slowly eroding with the rains but comfortable in its position in the hierarchy of life.
My oasis, today, can be found thirty feet outside the back door. There I find our garden and there I find our chickens. That peaceful area has grown over the years, and it will continue to do so. I follow the belief that if a little garden provides comfort then by extension a large garden will only increase that comfort.
Will you join me on a tour?
The Ever-expanding Garden Area
It would be a gross over-simplification to say it began with a herb hill. The herbs had been planted first, and they flourished for sure, but the genesis of this garden began during my childhood. Then was my love of growing things born. Countless days watching my parents tend to their garden instilled in me a love of the soil. I come from hardy stock, Iowa farmers who loved their corn fields and left a great part of their heart and souls in that deep, rich Midwest soil when they moved out west.
To the state of Washington they traveled in the last 1940’s, the war behind them and hopes of brighter days ahead of them. One of the first things they did was plant their garden, as though in that simple act they could reconnect with a life they left behind. I remember the joy etched on their faces as they turned the soil of their new home and rejoiced in the new seedlings reaching for the life-giving warmth of the sun.
Our herb hill gave birth to visions of grandeur, and several raised garden beds followed. The turf was dug up and new soil added. Seeds were planted and a new cycle introduced to land that would be bountiful. The vegetables were eaten and what couldn’t be consumed by our family was given to those who did not have access to organic treats. No fertilizers were used, for that would be a rape of a land that deserves better. We watered, we nurtured and in so doing we carried on that tradition that began in the 1800’s in Iowa.
More Is Better
Well of course it is, because fresh produce never goes to waste. We added more raised beds, and friends came to take the offered excess, and a sense of community was born, again as it had been back in the day.
The compost bin was introduced, that wonderful life-sustaining and enriching marvel that took waste and turned it into a nutrient-filled Disneyland for the garden. Nature is remarkable in its ability to continue the cycle. Life from death….productivity from waste….it always has been and continues to be so wherever a man or woman chooses to become part of the flow of life.
We smiled as our neighbors entered the fray, and soon the smells of fresh earth and the sounds of digging could be heard throughout our neighborhood. Community gardens sprang up where once there were fields of weeds, and today one can travel anywhere in our neighborhood and see the efforts of a small group of people determined to halt the advancement of time and opt for a simpler lifestyle.
There Must Be Livestock, Right?
Well of course there must. From scrap lumber we built our chicken coop, for we in Olympia are firm believers in recycling and finding a use for those things deemed unusable. Friends stopped by to look at our flock of nine, and the thought of fresh farm eggs in the morning fills us with happiness. They are our babies and each one has a name. Pita and Regalia are our favorites, and if they turn out to be roosters we will miss them, for they have become a part of our family.
Now we have discovered that pygmy goats are allowed within the city limits, so my eyes have lately roamed to more scrap lumber and can a new goat hut be far off? I think not!
Our chicks, now eight weeks old, are quite happy with their new lives, and well they should be. They are somewhat pampered and coddled, but in a few months they will give back to us tenfold and the cycle will continue.
There is great peace to be found in our garden area. The birds have their own feed station, and every morning is alive with chirping and clucking, and if one listens carefully enough one can also hear the seedlings stretching their muscles and preparing for a new day of growth.
Have you found serenity?
A Moment With Bill
Serenity from Within
Yes, we have found great serenity in our little backyard farm. If you sit there in the evening and listen closely enough, you can hear my grandfather’s footsteps as he walks among the rows of corn and calculates the year’s crop totals. I can still see the lightning bugs flittering about the lawn in Charles City, and when I close my eyes I can smell freshly baked apple pies from my grandma’s kitchen.
Serenity is an inside game. You can take that saying to the bank my friends. I read a quote once that said “serenity is perpetual quietness of heart,” and I believe that to be true. If I have serenity then I have it no matter where I am. I can be fighting traffic in a major city or sitting near my chickens; serenity will always be with me. It comes from a sense of oneness with our surroundings. It comes from a sense of self-worth and it comes from a sense of self-love.
One does not find serenity in the latest product being sold. It is not in new clothing or a larger home, and it certainly is not found in the approval of others. No, serenity is that quiet place within us all, that place where we are never bothered, frightened or angered, that place where all is well in our world because our foundation is sound and able to withstand the vagaries of life.
Do you have serenity? Do you have your own backyard garden deep within you where you can find peace?
If not, may I suggest you tend to the soil? Give it nourishment and keep out the weeds. Once your soil has a solid foundation then it will protect you from random insecticides and garden pests. It will be self-sustaining and each year there will be more bounty.
May all of your future harvests be good ones. May you always reap what you sow and may you always sow healthy seeds. The garden will reward those who know the secrets of the soil. It always has and it always will.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)