Guests who visit me at night may wonder why chairs so rudely turn their backs to otherwise sociable-looking seating arrangements.
I fully subscribe to garden designer Gordon Hayward’s view that a garden should be full of active prepositions. All my paths lead through a garden, (not just plopped down next to one). Gardens wrap around the back terrace. Instead of a mingy little strip of foundation shrubs passively sitting next to my house, my house hunkers down in the garden, embraced by color, texture, scent and activity year-round.
Being surrounded by gardens is like living in a wildlife blind. The more native plants I grow right outside the windows, the more critters appear. A comfy chair facing a window, back to the room, gives me a ringside seat where I can observe life in my yard without scaring anybody away.
6:00 a.m. I’m almost always peering through double windows surrounded by overstuffed bookshelves, as I drink a contemplative cup of tea. It’s my daily discipline, to simply sit down and do just that one thing, even in the dark of winter. Miss Leaf, my bratty rescue cat (who would bite me if I picked her up) climbs on my lap and settles in, purring.
When trees are bare, I can see way up a wooded rock-strewn mountainside and all the way down to the pond across my country road. What’s that rusty blur on top of the brush pile? Look closer, a red fox is snoozing in the sun, curled up for warmth, with ears erect and swiveling to monitor every sound.
Last spring a female wood duck spent a couple days ducking into cavities high up in trees in my yard, scouting out nesting sites, while her mate waited patiently in a neighbor’s maple tree and I sipped tea. After a few days they went winging away – Rejected! Then a grey squirrel’s purposeful treks up and down the trunk of a tulip tree caught my attention.
It took the exact same path from the ground to a sheltered hollow 60 feet up, carrying one leathery oak leaf at a time to line its nest, the perfect spot.
This time of year, goldenrods come into focus. Goldenrods are one of the most important pollen and nectar sources for native bees this latter part of the season. Read all about garden-worthy goldenrods in the latest issue of The American Gardener.
Open-window weather is a sensory treat. A soundscape of wind, birdsong, tree frog chorus changing to cicada buzz in summer, the hum of busy bees and scolding chipmunks (they drive me crazy!) plays in the background, barred owl conversation lulls me to sleep at night. There’s no way a bear can walk across my back slope or a hawk dive in without my noticing – a mob of bluejays always sounds the alarm, calling me back to the window to see what’s going on.
Open windows keep me connected to nature. I’m in no hurry to shut them as the season changes.