And I do mean that literally: our actual backyard, not Chapel Hill or North Carolina or North America or Planet Earth or any other metaphorical backyard.
January was a busy month–busy with work and traveling to DC for work, and also busy with combating a cold followed by a sinus infection followed by the desire to hibernate for the rest of the winter (not that it’s been anything really like “winter” here this year). So I haven’t had any time to travel.
But not all adventures start when you leave your own driveway. And our yard is an adventure in itself. It’s the kind of place a child, or an adult who remembers being a child, or a hound, can find nooks and crannies and leafy forts to hide in while getting lost in dreams . . . and quite possibly getting physically lost too.
Here’s a pretty view from our driveway on a sunny day:
We do also have a front yard, which is a little bit less primeval . . .
We’ve done pretty well at ignoring our jungle for the last year and a half, even though every now and again I wake up in the middle of the night imagining creeping strands of invasive English ivy strangling us in our sleep.
But then something changed. Do you see those little white flags in the front yard? One morning in December I was working from home, like I do almost every day, and I was busy, and Sasso was running around the house and begging me to play with her and generally being about as distracting as a dog can be. I was up to walking her about five miles a day at that point, and it was clearly not enough for her and was well more than enough for me. So, in my exasperation, I called the Invisible Fence company for a quote. A couple of weeks later, the fence was installed and the training process had begun.
A quick (defensive) side note: I know electric fences are controversial. We researched and considered the issues carefully, and concluded that the benefits outweighed the possible downsides, particularly since we couldn’t think of any other practical means for enclosing our large, hilly, and heavily forested yard. We did have a day or two during training when Sasso was afraid of the yard altogether and we second-guessed ourselves, but now she loves the yard and romps around it happily and incessantly.
It was during the process of training Sasso on the location of the boundary that we were hit in the face–again, literally, in the form of branches–by the need to do something about the yard.
We also made some interesting discoveries while tromping around the yard with Sasso:
Enter Ambition. Scott and I began developing plans for cleaning up the backyard–not too much, mind you, because if you are, say, a hound, you might like the yard just the way it is, in all its overgrown glory. We also began working on plans to build terraced garden beds in part of the front yard. To say we are novices is an understatement; both of us have lived our entire adult lives up to this point in small city apartments, so yardwork and gardening aren’t exactly our strengths. Luckily, although clearing brush is hard labor, it is not difficult to figure out. As for gardening, we’ve got a lot to learn, like . . . well, everything.
We set to work on Sunday. Scott began clearing at least two years’ worth of leaves out of the area we had settled on for the garden. And I began hacking away at the brush in the backyard. Meanwhile, Sasso cavorted.
At the end of the day, I hadn’t made much of a dent on the backyard. But we did have at least three things to show for all the work: