I love nature. Part of my childhood was spent in the Batangas province, in a mountain, with a forest for a backyard and acres of farmland in the other direction. However, another part of my childhood was spent in the thriving, crowded, noisy, concrete jungle that was the city of Manila, Philippines.
I can say for certain that if I were to be transplanted into the city, I would still survive. BUT, I would still need my trees, my nature, my place of comfort. I would have to go hunting for that place where birds nest, leaves rustle, and the dirt givess off that nostalgic, earthen smell that I love.
Today, I don’t live in the city, but I don’t live in the farm nor the mountains either. My place of residence is in the suburbs – where most middle-class American families choose to raise their kids. And while there are some trees here and there, they’re planted mostly for aesthetic purposes. They’re interspursed between houses and along the sidewalks to make the city look less blocky, impersonal, and dull.
So where, then, is my place of comfort?
Luckily, not too far from home! It’s in my parents’ backyard. While they’ve never been the kind to landscape, because they’re more the practical sort, their backyard, nonetheless, is perfect. At least to my kids and me.
There’s dirt where a pool or grass might be found. There are avocado, lemon, and blood orange trees. There are bursting grape vines and crawling butternut squash vines. There’s even a vegetable garden patch – which is dry now, but will be full come Fall.
It’s where my children play in the dirt, splash in mud puddles after the rain, get grass and dirt stains on their faces and pants, get splinters and knee scrapes, chase bugs and lizards, pick leaves and weeds for their pretend salads, and witness the wonder of living things growing from a seed with a little dirt, water, sunlight, and lots of care.
I’m thankful for this place. And I’m thankful to my parents for having a place for us to escape from technology and the business of the world. We are truly blessed, indeed.