“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
I found this quote around the dawn of the new year, and was immediately taken with it. Do you ever read a quote and then are instantly inspired? Well this is one that has profoundly affected me to my very soul. It spoke to me of gratitude for the very earth that I walk upon daily. That is a powerful responsibility to step lightly. Perfect for my gardening mantra, ‘Do no harm’. And once I practiced this matra I was overrun with wildlife who seemed grateful for my garden.
Gratitude, and specifically spoken or written gratitude is something I am practicing daily this year. This symbiotic relationship of gratitude with wildlife is something I have recently discovered. The wildlife are grateful for what I can provide and show it through their visits, and I in return am grateful for those visits.
So for my first post of 2013 I thought I would sing the praises of a wildlife garden and thank those who gave me such joy this past year. The picture above is of my wildlife garden (backyard) just this past weekend. It is the view I see everyday from the back of my house where we spend most of our time. I designed it so the view would be wonderful. I do like it.
And you can see there is a lot of activity in the garden even in winter. All those tracks are from the squirrels, rabbits and deer who come right over the fence knowing they will find something to eat (or they hope they will). Deer are browsing my red twig dogwood so I rarely have to keep it trimmed. I don’t think you will find any berries left anywhere, but I am growing more berry bushes in hopes of feeding more birds. And the perennials, I faithfully left standing for the birds, are also heavily foraged.
We are seeing footprints to the pond’s edge almost weekly this year so we will have to consider a heat source to keep it open a bit. I am also hanging a suet feeder this week to have more food sources for the birds. I do not hang feeders because of the Sharpies in the area who are just waiting for birds at a feeder. I am hopeful that the suet feeder will not attract the Sharpies. Perhaps if it is successful, we can hang another feeder with the suet next winter.
I am always looking for ways to add to the wildlife garden. It is a work of love in progress.
So what am I grateful for in my wildlife garden:
There is nothing more wonderful than to watch new life being born in the garden. From the building of the nest, to the care given to eggs and babies and then witnessing their first flight….I have never been more totally smitten. It is the high point of the season for me to be part of this new life as if I was the mother bird. This fledgling robin (above) was my first and I await more each year.
The colors of butterflies (like this red admiral) visiting is a treat for me. Every butterfly is welcome and honored for choosing my flowers or other host and larval plants. I adore seeing them flit about the garden, looking it over and deciding to perhaps lay their precious eggs here. To gaze upon a butterfly is heaven for my eyes and sends me running into the garden to try to get a closer look.
For me the sounds in the wildlife garden keep me alive with hope. Every insect and bird is bringing to me new hope as they scatter the seed or pollinate the flowers keeping my garden going throughout the season so it can be shared more and more with each new visitor. And these sounds are like life’s heartbeat, a rhythm that keeps my life blood my very soul pumping. Those sounds are silent now and greatly missed, but with the addition of a simple suet feeder, I know I will hear them in all seasons.
Smell is closely linked with memories. Many smells can instantly take us back in time to a beloved remembrance And that is what these sweet smells do for me. It may be the first time that I can smell the rich brown earth of my garden after it has been frozen for months. Or the bark of the trees, the smell of new green growth not to mention the first fragrant flowers. Each of these smells unlocks a memory of my garden of life.
Laughter is part of joy. It reduces stress and helps us sleep. And the frogs that visit my pond bring unstoppable laughter for me. They keep me grinning and chortling out loud with their antics. Their poses are fabulous. But the joy I feel with all the visitors, even my precious snakes, reaches to my very core. It lightens my load to watch them, to welcome them by giving them a wide berth so as not to disturb. If I am looking for some peace, quiet or respite, I just have to look out into my garden. These feelings increase tremendously when my feet hit that beautiful earth, and when I can sit quietly for a spell I am transported into their world.
These are just a few of my gratitudes as I start 2013. And as I garden for wildlife this year, I will be most grateful for all who come to partake in the garden. I consider them friends and they are welcome here. What are you grateful for in your wildlife garden?
Don’t forget The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming. This year it is an international event. I can’t wait!!
Man must feel the earth to know himself and recognize his values. ~Charles A. Lindbergh
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