Travels Through Time


A lot of people sing the praises of travel, of visiting some place far away for a handful of days and being immersed in the excitement of newness. Me? I find myself preferring to sing the praises of the windows I walk by every day, the plot of clovers that spring up on the sidewalk, and the unknown flowers that appear in my backyard every week. Sure, newness is a force to revel in. But to me, newness is all the more novel when it’s against the backdrop of sameness. There’s something fascinating about seeing the effects of time on a singular place.

tiny white stars tree blossoms mustard flowers pink brushes apple blossoms

I’m intrigued by change. The slower, the more purposeful, the better. To me, the unfurling of buds into petals is captivating—I know something is changing, but I don’t quite know what it will transform into. The only way to find the answer is to come back the next day, and perhaps the one after that, and see what will unfold.

My backyard is currently the object of my fascination. It’s a good thing that it’s the view out of my bedroom as well as my studio. The garden always looks different depending on the light that falls upon it. Last summer, it was barren and brown from a severe lack of rain. Now it’s a lush green oasis overgrowing with all sorts of stems, leaves, and fronds. On cloudy days it feels like a dense jungle. On a partially sunny day, like today, the blooming weeds and occasional flowers pop against the backdrop. It’s like the colors are catching and reflecting all of the limited sunlight. And on one of those rare perfectly-clear days, it looks like a cacophony of colors and bright whites and deep hues, basking in the full glory of the sun. If I was a tourist who came by for a visit, which vision would I have seen? Would it have arrested my attention? Or would I have barely given it a second glance, seeing it as a small patch of green next to some much larger swaths of green? Thank goodness I live here, and I get to see all of the facets of this little garden. Or, almost all of them—sometimes I’m sorely tempted to work from home more often so I can enjoy the greenery bathed in afternoon light a little more often. It’s just as alluring when it’s blanketed by twilight shadows. I admit to peeking under the shades at night just to catch one last glimpse of the garden under the moonlight.

The other charming thing about this garden is that I have no idea what’s growing in it. When I moved here last summer, I discovered some trailing blackberry vines on one side, a couple clusters of California Poppy, and a dead-looking tree buried amidst some weeds. There was also a gentle tree hugging the house with small pink flowers and shielding some primly planted succulents from the sun. That’s how it looked for the next several months. But suddenly the rains came, and I was greeted with a plethora of green grasses. The bright yellows of mustard suddenly overtook every section and corner of the yard. Clover-like leaves created a pleasant rug along the ground. Over the past month, ivy has begun to creep in from neighboring yards, along with some tiny white flower clusters that I’ve never seen before. Peace lilies have sprung up randomly left and right, but always several feet from each other, majestic and independent and proud. I even saw a couple of tiny Baby Blue Eyes poking their heads up next to a row of bricks. And just this week, two new arrivals appeared—what once looked like a few tall, skinny sticks came to life as a blossoming tree (possibly apple?) and brilliant strokes of deep pink appeared on one side of the garden. Unfortunately, the succulents seem to have disappeared. The poppies I saw last year have since hibernated and come back with the spring weather, though they haven’t flowered yet.

What am I going to find when I look out of my window tomorrow? What delights await me next weekend? While my friends are out traveling to distant corners of the globe, I’ll be here at home, happily watching the changes that time brings to my backyard.

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