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Blue Spruce Improves Backyard

Blue spruce adds welcoming touch

When my son, Philip, bought a house in Anchorage, Alaska earlier this year, he talked about what looked to him like a beautiful blue spruce tree in his backyard. He wanted me to take a look at it when I came to visit.


I spent two weeks with him in his new home during the first half of December. We donned our boots and tramped through sometimes foot-high snow in his backyard. The tree was, indeed, gorgeous. He's right about it being a blue spruce. It towers into the sky, much taller than his split-level home.


It felt good to stand near the tree. Not only is it part of Philip's new property, but it exudes a sense of welcome and love. That may seem ridiculous to some people. I can only say that it felt good to stand near the tree. I lingered outside in the cold and snow because I liked the way I felt being close to the tree.


During the time I visited Philip, I often saw a raven fly through the covered deck, which overlooks the backyard, and into the blue spruce's branches. The bird must have a nest there.


The towering tree, which provides a home for birds, also will provide my son with many years of pleasure and enjoyment. I think he chose well when he bought that house and the property on which it sits! The welcoming tree is an extra bonus.

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Signs of Spring

Swelling lilac buds on lilac bush branches
Swelling lilac buds

Swelling lilac buds tell me that purple, fragrant flowers are almost ready to blossom in my yard. Now that spring has come, the promise of blooming fruit trees and colorful bushes are not far away.


Someone will till my small garden plot in the corner of my backyard soon. I wonder how the rescue dog I adopted almost five months ago will react to all the scents and textures of spring. She leaps in the air out of pure joy, charges after neighborhood cats who dare to venture into the backyard, and delights in eating certain sprouting weeds.


She has the enthusiasm of a three-year-old dog, and I remind myself often that she's like a 21-year-old young lady full of youthful vigor. She races around the two spruce trees and cavorts across the dormant grass with delight every time I step out into the backyard.


She balances along a cement block wall that rims two sides of the yard, helping to hold dirt for raised flower beds. Last year, they grew dianthus, marigolds, petunias, pansies and zinnias. The dianthus will sprout in a few weeks – if they survive the dog.


I will spend more time in the yard, getting exercise, losing pounds gained during the cold winter months that kept me inside. One news report said that during the year of greater isolation due to the Covid-19 virus, some people gained up to 1.8 pounds a month. Taking walks outside or even just puttering in the yard will help to trim us down a little bit, or maybe a lot.


So many things to look forward to this spring! But, for the moment, what I look forward to most are watching those lovely lilacs bloom. And, of course, delighting in a dog who finds such joy in my company.

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Cottonwood along an irrigation ditch bank

As I sat in my chiropractor's backyard waiting for him to see me, I noticed many beautiful trees growing in his yard. I saw a peach tree laden with ripe peaches, an aspen, a spruce, an elm, and blossoming sunflowers tall enough to be trees.


Do they ever wish they were a different kind of tree? I wondered. I suspect not, because the trees have such distinct personalities and tasks that are just right for them. That may seem a little silly, but I believe it's true. Ask almost anyone who spends time around trees, and they most likely will tell you that trees have their own sense of purpose and their own individuality.


As I gaze at the aspen with birds flitting in and out of its branches, I wonder how it would describe itself. Words came into my mind. Were they from the tree? From my own imagination? I don't know. If it was from my imagination, it's kind of fun to take a tree imagination journey to see what you will discover.


What I heard in my mind about the aspen tree was, "I am welcoming. I stand with open arms. When challenges come, I recognize the gift in the challenge." As I watched its quaking leaves, I sensed it had lots of experience in seeing gifts in the challenges it faces – strong winds, people wanting to cut it down, drought, extreme temperatures.


The towering spruce behind it seemed confident. As I wondered how it would describe itself, I noticed how its topmost branch pointed straight up to the sky. Trees are very good at grounding themselves deep into the Earth with their roots. They are also good at connecting upwards into the sky to the place from which they absorb rain and snow and other gifts from nature. Perhaps that connection is what made the spruce feel so confident.


The tall elm behind me standing near the backyard entrance was filled with several kinds of birds. One small bird with bluish gray feathers on its body and a white patch on top of its head grasped ridges of trunk with its feet and walked upside down toward a fork in the tree. How interesting, I thought. It trusts the tree and its surroundings well enough to walk upside down!


Just then, the chiropractor waved for me to come into his office. Perhaps on my next visit to the chiropractor, I will get to take another tree imagination journey.


If you're looking for something fun, free and entertaining to do, try taking your own tree imagination journey. It's safe and relaxing.

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