Appreciating the wild side
by Jacob Kulju | July 18, 2006
The place I rent in Minneapolis comes complete with a
nice back porch, a fairly large backyard, a garden patch, and a spacious
garage. The landlord of the property isnít nearly as impressive, though. While
Iím sure heís a decent guy, his poor telephone skills, procrastination and
aloofness make him hard to like. Part of the package is the very unkempt lawn
my roommates and I took on as renters of his property.
This doesnít just mean the lawn gets scraggly (which it
often does when he is late to deliver the lawn mower); it also means that the
lilac bushes are encroaching upon the back porch, the crab apple tree is a
tanglewood of branches and untrimmed shoots protruding through the fence, and
the garden patch looked like a wilderness preserve when we moved in.
Out of a lack of time, a bit of resentment, and
slackening of ambition, we havenít done a whole lot to remedy the jungle-like
environment in which we have found ourselves. And, as nature has taken its
course, Iíve found a lot of things I appreciate about a yard that's gone its
I love the massive wall of lilac bushes that borders the
north side of the backyard. It is a thicket of squirrels, birds, nests, and
other sundry critters. It is always shaking or chattering with some furry or
feathered creatures chasing, chirping, or munching. Sitting in the back porch
can always be entertaining by keeping my eyes and ears on the mass of lilac;
sometimes I see squirrels doing acrobatics on spindly branches, or cardinals
accenting its deep green leaves.
The crab apple tree in the middle of the side yard could
use a good trimming, but its hundreds of branches and offshoots are full of
big, bursting, white blossoms that fill the entire yard and house with the
sweet scent of summer apple flowers. The happy bees and other flashy insects
make the air a kind of moving artwork of sorts.
The wild garden patch is full of flowers and plants that
someone prolifically planted many years ago. They are full of life as
well-established perennials that are impressive to watch grow and flower.
The lawn does get mowed, the garden does get weeded, and
some of the bushes get trimmed, but for the most part, picking the plethora of
flowers and fruits, listening to the birdsong, and watching summer take over
the backyard has been relaxing and fun. It is encouraging to see nature do so
well without the conservative hand of a human trimming, weeding, and prodding
the natural growth that even a Minneapolis lawn can have.
This article first appeared in the July 18 issue of the