Happiness is right in your own backyard


Isn’t that what Dorothy discovered in the Wizard of Oz?  Well, it has sometimes worked for me.  See how the sun has lit up my own personal corner of the cosmos?  Providence smiling here.

Er, well in summer anyway.  Right now it’s cold outside!  Here’s another reason to draw … to escape from the rigors of the present! 
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“Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly …”

Little House “on the prairie”

We have a garden in our yard.  It’s become a backyard habitat.  It all began with a compost pile.  The idea was to provide nutrients for the garden’s soil.  So all the household garbage went out to the pile, apple peels, carrot tops, cantaloupe rinds, pistachio shells, coffee grounds.  In they went.

Sometime later, my husband noticed strange worms wiggling around in the debris.  Not knowing what they were, he contacted the Agricultural Extension Officer of a nearby university.  “Don’t disturb those guys,” was the reply.  They’re helping you out.  Eating your compost and turning it into soil.  They’re grinding it away for you.

Soon birds started showing up.  Evidently the worms are tasty.  We were putting bird seed out into the yard already, but these new visiting birds were after the worms.  And they weren’t the only new arrivals.  All kinds of birds starting coming.  It has become a game with my husband and daughter to figure out what kinds of bird visitors we’ve got.  Blue jays, cardinals, brown thrashers, starlings, doves came, even a Baltimore Oriole came.

Then, there was a new development and a different kind of bird feeding event going on.  We had a hawk visit, who came to catch an occasional bird to eat.  We knew it was a hawk before we ever saw him because all that were left were feathers.  But of course some neighborhood cats showed up to hunt and do a little “bird watching.”

Recently we added a bird bath and now there’s a lot of exuberant bathing taking place, with chirping and splashing and thrashing about — and not just on Saturday nights.

Squirrels have arrived in such numbers that I told the family that the yard was beginning to look like it’s been carpeted.

My husband and daughter saw a opossum wandering around one morning, and we have a bunny who’s a regular.  I expect to see deer and moose next.  If we put in a beehive, I’m sure we’ll attract a bear (and this is 6 miles from the nation’s capital!)

All we wanted was some fresh vegetables.  And we got all this.  Mother Nature — you gotta love her.

[Top of the post:  My Backyard  by Aletha Kuschan]

Home Improvement

Please don’t make me any offers.  It really isn’t this crooked in real life.  I just happen to live in a little cottage that Rembrandt, with his reed pen, might have turned into a masterpiece of drawing without breaking a sweat.  He had to wander to the outshirts of Amsterdam to find the poignant cottages of his great drawings, but all I have to do is step out my front door.  So, hey.  I can’t complain.

A couple years ago my daughter had an elementary school assignment to draw a picture of her house and write a story about it.  We both went outside to draw en plein air.  This was my version.  I love this drawing.  (P.S. by the way, there are timid funnel spiders that live in the boxwoods who consider this a portrait of their home too.)

[Top of the post:  Crooked Little House that Rembrandt would love,  pencil drawing, by Aletha Kuschan]