Friday, July 6, 2012

The Sanctuary

In case you didn't know, it's been hot here in the Midwest. Triple digit hot. My city has been breaking temperature records just about every day for the last week, and that is no exaggeration. I've been so obsessed with watering my plants daily that the plant watering invaded my dreams last night.

I've also been so worried about keeping my plants from wilting that I haven't stopped to enjoy the burst of activity the sprinkler brings, until today.

I turned the sprinkler on in the backyard and when I returned inside, I noticed a young Eurasian Tree Sparrow hanging out on a branch that was in the path of the sprinkler. I watched it for a moment before grabbing my camera.
I will insert the disclaimer that I took all of these photos from inside the house through the sliding glass door, where the glass is filthy. I cleaned up the images in Photoshop as best I could, but some of them are still icky.

  Not long after the Eurasian Tree Sparrow flew away, a pair of House Sparrows landed on the branch and either leaned into the oncoming water or bent down to drink from the droplets clinging to the twigs and bark.

I love how this little bird is LEANING into the sprinkles. She did that repeatedly.

I watched the birds for awhile before turning the sprinkler off and going to the Historic Society to, *ahem*, water more flowers. It was already close to 100 degrees when I left for work at 10am.

When I returned home, I sat near the sliding glass door that leads to the backyard and continued observing the life in my backyard. I felt my worries drifting away as I watched the bumblebees work on the Purple Coneflowers, the butterflies flit from flower to flower, the wasps hover around my tomato plants and the birds feed from the feeders and drink from the bird bath.

A pair of young Eurasian Tree Sparrows seemed to enjoy the space under the BBQ grill on the patio. They were using their new found foraging skills, pecking at the leaves and twigs, perhaps even finding an insect hiding under the detritus.  From time to time, an adult would land on the patio and the youngsters would rush the parent, wings furiously flapping as they begged for the tasty morsel in the adult bird's beak.

The hummingbird feeder had at least one repeat customer

And the Goldfinches were frequenting the thistle feeder.

When he wasn't feeding those hungry youngsters, the Eurasian Tree Sparrow paused for a drink at the bird bath.

And a Gray Catbird jumped in to cool off and drink from the bird bath as well.

I often complain about and feel self conscious about the state my backyard is in. Today it struck me that I subconsciously view my backyard as an extension of myself. I'm hard on myself and constantly find fault; I'm not smart enough, popular enough, my house is a mess, my yard is a mess, the list here goes on and on. 

After watching all of the activity in my yard, I decided to cut myself, and my yard, a little slack. Yes, the yard is a disorganized mess of honeysuckle, rose of sharon, poison ivy and a plethora of other unwanted plants, but I'm in the process of organizing and weeding (very much like in my life too) and I've planted flowers that are attractive to wildlife. The very core of the backyard is fulfilling its purpose of being a sanctuary in an urban setting. It's a place for the winged things to come for shelter, food and water. Life out in the wild is hard and I want my non-human friends to have a safe place to make their lives easier.

So yes, I am disorganized, messy, and battle my emotional demons, but I would like to think that my friends, and maybe even colleagues and strangers know that I'm an okay person and can offer comfort from the harsh realities of life. But most importantly, I need to see these things in myself, love my inner core and take refuge there when life stinks.

We, the garden and myself, are a work in progress, but in the meantime, visitors are welcomed.


  1. First - I love the fact that you can name every bird and flower. Someday your children will learn so much from you.
    Second - love the analogy of you and your back yard. It makes me think. And - good for you to be your own therapist : )

  2. Yes! You are an okay person! Better than okay. You are a wonderful, caring individual who anyone should be proud to call their friend.

    And I'm willing to bet that unlike your feathered visitors, YOU do not drink the bathwater!

  3. Michaele - It's funny because it wasn't going to be a personal entry. I was just going to write about what I saw in my yard. :)

    Hillbilly Mom - Thank you :). No I don't drink from my bathwater, but I do have the annoying habit of taking their pictures while they are in the tub