It seems that summer arrived suddenly. Everywhere I look I see the gorgeous deeper greens of summertime. The brash bright yellow-green and shy light greens of spring are gone. Trees and bushes are all dressed up in full-size leaves and the landscape has taken on a lush fecund green fullness.
Fruits have formed on my backyard black raspberry and blueberry bushes. I’ve begun harvesting lettuce, parsley, basil, and rosemary from my container garden.
The first broods of ducklings have feathered and grown to almost full size and just this week a merganser mama and two diving ducklings appeared in the pond behind the house.
I continue to marvel at how much I love the openness of the backyard after losing the last of the big old willow tree last summer. Initially I mourned the loss of the graceful old tree but as time goes on I appreciate the changed landscape more and more.
We have planted (or rather had it planted by a tree farm) a 14 foot native river birch tree near the pond at the side of our yard leaving a big expanse of pond open so that we can watch the comings and goings of it’s many residents (frogs, turtles, mallards, wood ducks, and mergansers). I love the new tree and the still open view.
I am now saying with great respect to my deceased mother (and a little bit of laughter at myself), “Mom, you knew what you were talking about when you said we would have a great view if it weren’t for the trees.” Though I fell in love with this place because of the trees in the backyard and loved how it was when we bought this house, I love it the way it is now as well. In fact I am totally surprised by how much I love our yard without the huge basswood tree that went down in a wind storm and the big old willow tree that simply fell over in the pond.
It is a good reminder that much of what we think about happiness is wrong. We are not very good at predicting what makes us happy and often choose the wrong things. I knew that I was looking for a place with a view of trees when we went looking for a house and eventually found the one we now live in.
What I didn’t know was how much being in nature and surrounded by nature would mean to me and how happy it would make me, with or without the big trees that I fell in love with. Every day I wake up and give thanks for another day living here.
Last week I looked out the bedroom window and saw a young deer and rabbit munching weeds in the area where the willow tree used to stand. I immediately named them Bambi and Thumper and loved watching them calmly browse and wander through the area that we plan to clear out. Seeing them brought a big smile to my day just as watching the ducks and turtles makes me smile or listening to the frogs at night makes me happy.
Last night I woke during the night seeing the bright solstice full moon shining in the bedroom window. This morning I saw the tiny baby mergansers diving in the pond and decided to take my camera out to the backyard to see if I could photograph one or both of them. Of course by the time I wandered out with my camera they had disappeared but still I walked softly through the dew-covered grass, seeing beauty wherever I looked, marveling at the rich greens all around, admiring my ripening black raspberries and blueberries, and enjoying the fresh breeze on my face.
One of the best ways I know of to increase your happiness is to spend time outside in nature.
What makes you happy? When was the last time you went for a wander in nature?
May you walk in beauty.
Note: These are some of the photos I made on my wander through the backyard this morning.