Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Taming a Jungle

In 2012 we bought this little old house in an estate sale (so, it was a good deal) and though the house wasn't our dream come true (it's right next to a main road), we were pretty thrilled that it had almost a full acre! What we didn't realize is that the acre not only looked like a jungle, but that it was committed to staying that way. Tennessee has a "happy weed" climate, which is a really nice way of saying that the vines and weeds are incorrigible and utterly determined to remain THE PERMANENT RESIDENT(sssssssssssssssss). Here is our winter jungle, after clearing a good portion of it just 6 months before (yes, it all grew back). 

Here is our spring jungle. 

More spring jungle after Kris started trail blazing with a brush hog. 

The infamous brush hogger. 

Awesome tool + awesome man = brush destruction!

Post-brush hogging.  Note the formidable piles of debris. 

This hill was covered in poison ivy. Yummy. 

In comes the recruit: Gumpai! 
Team playset here we go! 

The supervising staff. Gumpai couldn't have done it without them. For sure. 

The Scientist checks our progress. 

A thing of beauty! 

"Gumpai, you're my hero." 

The happy recipients.

Mommy's bench, made out of stumps from the brush piles.

Then... I nearly annihilated my beloved friend, Susan (who proved that she is made of sterner stuff than any other human I've encountered) who accompanied me on Mission Weed Conquer in the remainder of the yard. It would be impossible to describe how arduous this labor was, and the heat/humidity definitely did it's best to finish us off. After weeks of pulling weeds by hand, digging out 96 stumps with a mattock and shovel, laying out 1200 feet of weed material, shoveling and dispersing 4 loads of (free!) wood chips by wheelbarrow, we started to finally see some progress. We added some additional touches with the fire pit, patio area, hanging plants, and hammock posts. Whew... finished? 

Nope! We were just so disoriented by being nearly finished that we decided to go ahead and fence in the yard, too. :-) So, aside from a gate for the yard, and chairs for the patio, this jungle is very nearly tamed. Valiant and Sabina are elated to have a REAL yard, and to not have anyone rushing them back indoors every time they step outside. 

Now, if we can just eradicate the mosquito swarm that also resides in our backyard, the boys will have a chance to enjoy the yard as much as the dogs. :-) 

Chocolate and elk nuggets

As this small human toddles about in our lives each day, he leaves imprints of himself upon each of us. All of us have been deeply changed by the joy that he carries at the core of his being. I often find myself watching as he enters a room and captivates everyone, either through subtle smiles under a (tentatively) shy demeanor, or through his bold gallop on those two rather steady legs that is always accompanied by an enthusiastic smile (and often outright laughter). He emerged into my world and the sunshine has never left. 

He changes everyone who lets him into their heart, and I love watching him learn from those who love him. 

He is always excited to meet a new adventure and to take on a challenge. 

He loves life and those in it. 

 He has a complexity and depth that often surprises those around him. He has no shortage of opinion and is unafraid to share that opinion, sometimes ferociously. He has the courage and strength of a lion; but he's not a tame lion, as it were. 

He loves chocolate. 

And rocks. 

And elk nuggets. 

And grass. 

He loves God's creation, starting with the great outdoors. Every day I remind him that he is one of the greatest marvels of that creation and that I am incredibly/profoundly delighted to be his mommy. Sometimes he follows me through the house toting his favorite soft blue blanket behind him, waiting for me to sit down so that he can climb into my lap and lay his head against my chest. He never readily leaves, and I love that he savors these timeless moments (almost) as much as I do. My life doesn't seem even remotely possible - to be surrounded by this much beauty.