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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." -Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Backyard Nature Notes: Time for Subtleties

I'm back...and beginning to adjust to being home, and to the work that has piled up...and the new reality of my changed family dynamics that comes with my mother's death.

What has changed? I find that in writing to you several times a week that I'm able to enjoy the subtleties of life in a way that was never available to me before.

To receive your heartfelt condolences and notes of caring truly touched my heart. I guess we have more of a community than we sometimes realize.

Hmmm, much like our backyard is more of a community than we realize most of the time. The rich tapestry of life forms...and minerals...and textures...and colors...and life cycles. They create such a rich depth of experience that we have to deliberately take time to notice all the little parts and honor them.

And when we honor them...they honor us in return. They give us joy, and wonder and delight...as well as practical knowledge and new skills and greater understanding of the unity we label "everyday living".

My experience back home gave me the opportunity to wiggle my toes in the soft soil of my mother's garden. What a satisfying feeling. It tickled my spirit!

I was able to hug my sister and brothers... not just once...but many times. Probably more times than I had hugged them in my entire life. What a warm, loving connection. We anchored each other during the stormy weather.

And I listened to a 3 inch rain pummel the roof all night long ... well, I really didn't hear it all night, but the drive home in the midst of the lightning storm certainly got my attention! And my sister's resourcefulness and steadfastness brought a new sense of admiration to mind! We shared an everyday adventure that we will remember for years.

And taking photos of the house, and old chicken house, and my Dad's carpentry shop...and our outhouse with the big hole still available for use ;-) ... the garden and Mama's flowers, and making hay with pitchforks and sweat. Scrubbing the kitchen cabinet that Mama was no longer able to cope with...the sense of complexity of life was overwhelming. And reassuring. How capable country folks are! How much we owe their pioneering spirit and hard work. How wonderful that some tenacious souls have held onto the concept of organic food and nurturing care of farm animals.

And as the cars and trucks rushed by I marveled at how few glanced over to the guys as they pulled an old horse-drawn rake behind the new fangled tractor to rake the freshly mown hay into rows. It certainly wasn't a common site...quite the contrary --it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen!!! David sitting on a plastic lawn chair on top of a modern mower...pulled by a classic old farm tractor... attached to a huge rusted rake that was raised and lowered by a rigged, makeshift rope lever. ;-) What a sight!!!

And all those auto windows were rolled up tight...only a few of us could smell the sweet aroma of newly mown hay sizzling in the summer sun.

... And fresh peaches that were ready to pick. New potatoes to dig and eat with the fresh crop of green beans. Oh...don't let me forget the blackberries. My sister had a bumper crop of blushing red berries just beginning to turn...but my oldest brother had a bumper crop of huge....and I mean 2 inch berries that were ripe and oh so sweet to pick and savor...one at a time. Gems that sparkled in the summer sun.

And not everything was wonderful and pleasant. There was the wafting odor of the nearby commercial chicken houses that reminded me of why I left Arkansas. Tyson Foods is headquartered there and when I was in high school, we had about 30 new, super sized chicken houses built within a couple miles of our home. And they had not perfected odor control processes at that time!!!! It's quite a bit better now, but...

And there were the kittens who mauled the violets I sat out on the picnic table for my sister to take home. And...well, I'll just jump over the down side of country living ;-) If you live in the country, I'm sure you can think of a few of those yourself.

But I wanted to share the subtleties of being close to nature with you...it was so good to be immersed in a more natural way of life. But now I'm home again...in the midst of city living.

My challenge now is to appreciate the subtleties of the mourning doves singing...the ferns sprouting...the crows congregating...and friends who connect.

The subtleties of life...Amen!!!

For more articles about NATURE & KIDS

Young Birders Get Serious About Birding Fun
The Squirrel Family 0 Backyard Nature Safari
Hamsters are rodents and cuddly pets
Kids Learning Links
Buddy's Diner (for the birds)
Bird Profiles for Young Naturalists