In My Own Backyard

It’s often true that people don’t discover their nearby attractions until relatives or friends visit from out of town and they become the tour guide. People travel all over seeking out the new and interesting, when sometimes the best places are in their own backyard.

Today I realized that literally, one of the best places is in my backyard.

Williams Creek, a small tributary to the Salt River, runs through the back portion of our yard. Our property extends a bit on the other side of the creek, but for all intents and purposes, the creek defines the back border of our property.

The creek has also become one of the features of our yard that has me hating our property at times. Because the Salt River is no longer a real river, Williams Creek often floods our property and each time it does, it brings in a new crop of weeds and deposits another layer of silt across our yard.

Willows line the banks of the creek, and below the prodigious branches of the willows grows an increasing tangle of berry vines, stinging nettle and horsetails. I used to be able to mow much of the backyard, but with everything that’s gone on the last few years the willows and brambles took over.

Two weeks ago a large willow fell over during a light summer rain, and so I’ve been sawing and hacking my way through the mess it caused. This afternoon I made it to the old wire fence that runs the length of the property in the back. It had always annoyed me because you can’t weed whack along a wire fence. So I spent most of the day clearing the brush off of the fence and started pulling the wire and stakes.

This opened a path to the creek, something we hadn’t had in quite some time. Being an unusually warm day in Ferndale, I was ready to quit my yard work at that point. Lori had been busy in the front yard pulling horsetails and I knew she’d be ready to quit soon too.

We had talked about setting up our foldable settee and sitting out in the back yard since it was such a nice treat to have a real summer day in Ferndale. But I had an even better idea.

I took our settee down to the creek bed, which required getting out the extension ladder as the banks are pretty steep now from all the erosion. Then I got a couple glasses of lemonade and put them in the cup holders of the chair.

Lori loved my surprise. We spent about an hour and a half just sitting with our toes in the cool water, enjoying the slight breeze that made its way through the trees. There were little birds and tiny water bugs to entertain us, and we dreamed of finding gold in “our” creek.

I had brought her iPhone down with us to take pictures, and while we were down there enjoying the splendor of our own backyard Lori suggested we could listen to some music on her phone. I decided to try Pandora, and it struck me as very odd to be sitting in the middle of a creek and still be connected to the Internet. I pulled up a George Winston station which seemed very appropriate for the locale. The third song that played was a track by David Lanz which was so nice we ended up purchasing the album on iTunes.

At that point I was starting to lose the feeling in my feet from the cool water, so we ventured back to the house to listen to the rest of the album on the stereo.

During the 90 minutes we spent sitting in our creek, I fell in love with our house again. So often it is just a source of endless chores, and we never take the time to just sit and enjoy it. But looking at the scenery in our creek, I realized that people drive long distances to enjoy scenery like this. We’re very lucky to have this little paradise in our own backyard.

Next week I’m going to try and find time to smell the roses we’re growing.