Hope Springs Eternal — And Also, Out of My Neighbors’ Yard

Posted By on Feb 3, 2016 | 1 comment


Creek flowing in the snow

Ever notice how water generally has little regard for the plans of people?

The creek that carves a gash across our property clearly has no concern that it doesn’t belong in the middle of a suburban yard. The chasm it creates is deep and unruly, making any hope of achieving a regular-looking lawn impossible.

But the creek just goes about its business, shooting a casual “eff you” to the deliberate landscaping of the neighboring homes as it winds its way into the woods.

I so am thankful for the long-ago homeowner who decided to just let the creek BE. Rather than try to fight it, divert it, or hide it, whomever built this house decided to let the creek rule the yard.

And so it does. Our house is the only one in our neighborhood with a small forest for a front yard. It’s not a yard that everyone would love, but I couldn’t love it more.

 

A mystery 

I’ve been watching this creek since we moved in, and I’ve been puzzled by something: While the plants surrounding the creek have changed with the seasons and the weather, the creek does not. It never dries up or diminishes after a dry spell. It doesn’t freeze, even in the ultra-cold.

Since it’s not a particularly wide or deep body of water, it seemed strange that it was completely impervious to any external conditions.

There was another weird thing, too. The creek entered our yard from the neighbors’ property. But I could never quite figure out the path it took through their yard. I could only ever spot a few feet of it and then I lost it.

However, in December the mysteries of the creek were revealed to me. The neighbors invited us over for a holiday potluck lunch. While we were there, I mentioned to them that I couldn’t figure out where the creek cut through their property.

Turns out, there was a very good reason for that. They told me that the creek actually originates UNDER their house. It bubbles up from an underground spring and enters the outside world in their backyard.

I laughed at myself that I hadn’t even considered a spring.

In any case, this answer delighted the heck out of me.

Why?

Because it reminded me of so many great things.

 

Finding room for magic

I always tell people I’m living a charmed life. I think one reason I believe that is because I always try to leave room for the unexpected. I like to leave open the possibility that something delicious and unanticipated might show up right around the corner and enrich my life in ways I never dreamed of.

Life is way more interesting with some magic in it.

But for the last few months, I’ve been feeling keyed up and scattered.

My life has gone through some major shifts — personally and professionally. I’m so happy with Joe and our evolving family and our quirky and cozy house … but I’ve also been trying to figure out how to accommodate BIG IMPORTANT SERIOUS REAL WORLD STUFF like work and money, while also satisfying my inner appetite creativity, mystery, and weirdness.

It can be hard remember to leave the door open for that kind of stuff when there’s laundry to do and lunches to pack and schedules to figure out and work that requires intense mental focus.

Getting stuck in a very linear mindset based on finite resources — time, money, attention — means that I’m not always remembering to look around for the magic of life. Worse, when I start thinking that way, I end up closing the door on possibilities. Why? Because I just can’t fathom where they’ll come from. I forget to remember that sometimes stuff just shows up.

 

Lessons from little creek

So getting back to my creek …

Finding out that — wow — it’s created from an endless source of ever-flowing water that just appears out of nowhere? That was a mind blower. And it also helped me remember these very cool and helpful concepts:

  • The “source” of something isn’t always visible, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t powerful or constant.
  • Sometimes the thing that fuels us is rooted so deep down that nothing could stop it. Not a dry spell. Not a deep freeze. Not even plunking a house on it.
  • I don’t have to know where everything comes from in order to see it, touch it, or believe it. Sometimes stuff just shows up.
  • The simplest explanations are often easy to overlook.
  • There is tremendous beauty in letting nature follow its course. That goes for human nature too. Maybe we’re not all meant to live a life that looks like the perfect lawn. Maybe instead of trying to mold ourselves into the ideal image of what we think we’re “supposed” to show the world, perhaps we can make more interesting choices. Maybe, by letting our inner energy flow into the world, maybe we can carve paths that we didn’t imagine.

 

So let me ask you … what are you stuffing down? What are you trying divert? What would happen if you made a different choice?

 

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1 Comment

  1. I have the opposite: there’s a perennial stream running through the back yard but it’s culverted. Similarly, it originates a couple blocks up, due to groundwater (not really a ‘spring’, it has to do with the local glacial geology). Several neighbors have theirs open but most of it was culverted in the 1950s. I’ve been trying to daylight it, but the bureaucratic rigamarole is daunting. The same process provides leakages of water between expansion joints in various streets for a few days after a rain. Water springing up wherever it can and making a pleasant little stream for us.

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