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Voyageur's Best Features of 2006

Wild Side

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 own way.

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 Voyageur Press.