Where I Live
I live on an avenue south of Chestnut Lane. That's not its real name but it's lined with horse-chestnut trees. Their enormous verdant leaves provide ample shade in summer. Come autumn, they drop ripe spiky pods that crack open and spill out a single glossy seed. Round and smooth, the size of a golf ball, the color of polished walnut. Each has a scar, a rough white patch that is sometimes shaped like a heart. I often pick one up along my daily walk, turning it over and over between my fingers. Sometimes I keep the chestnut to add to my collection. Sometimes I let it fall to mingle with the others.
I live near a birdhouse at the edge of a yard. Perched on a pipe, it stands three feet from the ground. It no longer has walls. Just a cedar roof that is weathered and cracked, its edges lined in lichen with nails touched by rust. It's wrapped in a bramble of Virginia Creeper— woody twigs in winter, lush with leaves through summer. Oh, and I must tell you what happens come autumn. How the birdhouse is concealed under a cascade of crimson. Then it becomes a hideaway for a spider or beetle or meandering snail. This shack hasn't harbored birds in years. But still, there it stands, holding things up, collecting weather and time, offering refuge for the smallest in life.
I live across from a scraggly linden with broken limbs and rotting wood. It's perfect for downy woodpeckers who forage and knock on hollowing trunks. Its aging bark wears several scars where Woodrow whittled out holes with his beak. And sometimes a flicker stops by for a snack, scattering the starlings into murmuration. When its leaves fill in, the elm is a refuge for robins and chickadees and charms of finches. Last summer it harbored a grassy nest, cradling two doves in the crook of its arm. But I worry about the strength of this elm, how many more storms can she weather? And I ache for the day when she falls or is fallen. She is a sanctuary for my fine feathered friends, a life-sustaining haven.
I live next door to a trumpet vine that climbs the corner of a red brick house. It bushes out in emerald green and sprouts flamboyant trumpet-shaped blooms. The vibrant vermillion attracts hummingbirds— seekers of sweetness that dip and dive in a playful dance between sips of nectar. The bees are there too, gathering pollen. Buzzing to their own diligent rhythm. In winter, you can see large dangling pods, smooth and elegant against rambling vines. They dry and split like aged cedar wood, dispersing hundreds of thin, paper-like seeds. When everything is blanketed by snow and chill, the pods hang as hopeful reminders of spring.
I live with a Norwegian Forest cat and an easy-tempered tabby. The Wedgie Princess is soft as down with calico patches shaped like wings. The petal pink of her nose and her tender paw pads remind me of a bunny. She is strong and sensitive and loyal to one— I am the one who saved her. There she was, the smallest in the room, hissing and growling from the corner. I plucked her up and snuggled her close, nuzzling her nose against mine. Now, she seeks out my lap and squeaks hello, wanting to be held like a baby. And those chartreuse eyes that look into mine— all I can say is they slay me. And Zoli, the tabby-boy is more like a puppy. He fetches toy mice and waits at the door, greeting us with playful endearment. When we enter a space, we have to watch where we step since he is always at our feet. Say he is cute and he immediately flops, exposing his tabby markings. Swirls and stripes and belly spots, his silky pelt is stunning. Brother and sister from different litters, they rescued me from sorrow.
I live in a house made of yellow brick with plenty of natural light. The door is turquoise for beauty and protection with a brass knocker shaped like a bird. A river of beach pebbles streams out front, lined by wildflowers and grasses. Follow the river towards the cedar gate where sunflowers tower and sway. Beyond the gate is a handcrafted bench that overlooks Mina's grave. St. Francis is there holding reverence for all creatures great and small. In the summer the Japanese maple helps shade this sacred space. Further back is a garden with cucumber vines and a pergola wrapped in honeysuckle. Tucked into the corner is a small patio, paved with pink pentagon bricks. Lilac bushes border this nook with sweet fragrance and summer shade. If you peek in you can spy a robin's nest that once sheltered three precious eggs.
Or sit awhile and listen to the soothing track of water— gurgling and dripping from a bamboo spout that rests on a makeshift fountain. If you are really still, you may see thirsty bees pause at the spout for a cooling drink. Or you may be visited by a covey of quail as they mindfully traverse the yard.
I live in a radius of comfort, surrounded by beauty and light. My perimeter is nature as I mindfully explore. The seasons are my compass. At the center is my home.
Tell me friend, where do you live?