Teacher Tuesday: Tiptoe through the tulips—make that azaleas. . .

This week’s FOLK Magazine Journal Challenge is to take a nature walk and reflect on the sights, sounds, and feelings I experience as I walk.  Well, to be honest, I didn’t go for a walk today.  I was too busy working on my antiques booth and doing some thrift store shopping.  Wait, I did walk across the grass to load two pieces of painted furniture in my truck.  Does that count?
I did, however, get out in nature the other day to clear out the ugly, spiky, dead branches left by my lantana bushes last year. I actually did have to tiptoe through or between my azalea bushes to get to the lantana!

Clearing out the old lantana branches requires a strong back, gloved hands, and something to put the broken pieces into.  I carried an empty five-gallon bucket with me.  Reach down near the base of the plant, break off the branches, break them in two, and stuff them in the bucket.  When the bucket gets full, walk across the yard and dump it into the tree line. 

You poor city folks might not understand.  You see, out in the country, we have wild trees and undergrowth bordering our yards, and organic matter can be dumped into the undergrowth with no consequences other than more places for the rabbits to burrow.
There is something primal about gardening.  Smelling the broken twigs, the disturbed leaves, mulch, and soil, and avoiding the bumblebees attracted to the azalea blooms clears the mind and fills one with positive feelings and a sense of connection to the earth.  Birds singing and courting each other under Lucy the cat’s watchful eyes are a miracle to behold.  Even the poor little baby rabbits whose nest Lucy uncovered after hubby cleared a brush pile brought feelings of joy, even though our best efforts to hide them again did not protect them from predators.
Have you ever held a tiny wild baby bunny in your hand?  We rescued one from Lucy, found its siblings nearby in their little hole, returned it, and covered the hole, only to find the next day that something–maybe Lucy–got to them anyway.  The circle of life continues. . .
So. . .reflections on nature?  Nature isn’t something “out there.”  We are a part of nature and we have a responsibility to take care of nature, including ourselves.  Being outside where I can see, hear, smell, and touch plants and animals reminds me of the connection we share.  However, let me be the first to admit that I also have a healthy respect for nature and avoid wasps and poisonous snakes at all costs.  
Slow down and observe nature.  It will bring peace and calm to the frenzied soul.

By aencoker

Author, teacher, mom, grandmother, but most of all, Christian.

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