Posted by: Nancy | May 28, 2012

The Wilderness in my Backyard

I spend as much time outdoors as I can. It’s been such a gorgeous springtime, I’ve had lots of excuses to be out — planting, weeding, rearranging, cleaning up, etc.

The other day, I was in the backyard, working at my planting bench.  A rabble of butterflies — five or six — came along, swirling and twirling around me. Then suddenly, they stopped and lit on me.

I stopped, too. No movement at all, just breathing in this moment, when I was …chosen… by four or so butterflies. They rested a bit, walking some, an occasional slow open and close of the wings. It lasted only a couple of minutes, and then on cue, they all rose twirling away.

They left me feeling privileged and happy, belonging in the moment.


A few days later, just at nightfall. We are sitting outside with a glass of wine, reviewing the day and waiting for the moon to rise.

A neighborhood cat breaks the quiet with an athletic leap to the top of our six-foot wooden fence. She is alarmed, fur turned to bristles, and she is watching something intently.

We are silent watching the drama unfold. A red fox slips into the yard; this was the cause for the cat’s alarm. The fox makes a quick and effective reconnaissance of the yard, coming within a few feet of us, then quietly lopes out the same way.

Meanwhile the cat has used the opportunity to sneak away from the fox. The moon rises without incident.


One bright morning, three mallards came to visit our pool. There were two males and a female, caught up in some kind of tangled relationship. The two boys appeared to be rivals, occasionally swaggering toward each other, sometimes honking. She sat above the fray, literally, on top of a brick wall.

The males took turns swimming, and at one point the female also decided the pool looked inviting.

Then all at once, the three arose in a bustle and were airborne, all in a pack. And gone.


Another night, another glass of wine, sitting outside with my love. This time, we are sitting at a small bistro table, near a small garden. The oriental lily is massive and fragrant, right at eye level.We are positioned to catch the last bit of sunlight.

The sun sets, and dusk takes hold. Soon, our bats are swirling and diving, performing pretend dive bombs all around us, always pulling up at the last second. We marvel.

But then something is too close. Right in front of me, now beside me. I freeze and feel chills race up my spine. I’m afraid this bat is entirely too close.

But then, I see it at the lily. It’s not a bat at all, it’s a hummingbird, dropping by for dinner at the lavish pink lily. Less than two feet from my face.

I think I can hear the soft whoosh of its wings, but I might be imagining it. The tiny wings are moving so fast that they look out of focus, fuzzy in the waning light. Again, a tiny bit of nature pays a visit and leaves full of wonder, feeling lucky and enriched for our experience.

Tiny things.

All around us.


So glad to share the world with them.

(A tribute to Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski, and charming butterflies everywhere.)

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