Through the blinds I used to see a tall Norwegian maple
with leaves the color of tanned leather
bigger than my outspread hand.
It had a scar along the trunk, a long vertical burn
where lightning struck one afternoon
without rain or storm.
We liked the yard a little wild.
The tall, straight nut trees of ancient age
blocked the sunlight from the gardens
so the undergrowth was straggly,
except for the honeysuckle that grew
in wild abundance, trying to dominate
much stronger plants, and the thick moss
that grew instead of grass.
One spring we planted a thousand bulbs.
Two hundred daffodils along the stone wall
behind the maple, and three hundred tulips
around the maple’s base and over toward
the steps by the steep driveway.
They were splendid when they bloomed.
Violent, bright colors against winter browns.
The rest were crocus, and we tucked them away
in every place we could dig a hole in the front.
They bloom first, and we wanted the joy widespread.
Unfortunately, the grey squirrels wanted food.
The crocuses were a treasure hunt they never tired of.
So we planted ground cover that liked the deep shade
and let the wild life come and go as it would.
Sometimes there were deer. One day a mother turkey
and six babies. Another time rabbits.
Occasionally a ground hog or a fox.
And when the snow was over for sure, we had
nests of red chipmunks in the stones,
with their little flirty tails twitching and shrill barks.
They drove the dog crazy.
But it was the birds I loved. We had more than I could name.
Cardinals, bluejays, finches, nuthatches, sparrows, woodpeckers,
owls, hawks, and wrens, mockingbirds and nightingales to trill in glory.
Peace lived there, among nature’s bounty and beauty,
in the rhythm of life and the seasons.
A time of joy and blessing,
a time of true contentment.