Spot’s house is near Rocky Butte in Portland. Just over the back fence is the Grotto — a former monastery comprised of 62 wooded acres. I can’t count the number of times first-time visitors have said, “I didn’t know this was here!”
I didn’t either, until I found this house advertised for rent in the classifieds some 12 years ago. After renting for two years, we made it home for good.
This time of year the mostly deciduous trees out back go through a transformation from a tangle of cold-looking gray-brown branches to become — boom-boom-boom — a riot of lush green leaves that sort of grow into the house. It’s a glorious sight, a soul-feeding space, just simple (not fancy) beauty and birdsong. God’s space.
While our lawns are postage stamp, the space is heavenly, especially now, as it explodes with blossoms on the mock fruit trees, forget-me-nots, rhodies, lilacs, and soon, peonies. Even the “snow” of spent petals on the patio is gorgeous.
You’ve met Lula if you regularly read my words here, and one of my favorite things during this season is watching her guard her yard. She stations herself on the back patio, gazing for hours at what I’ve come to think of as her kingdom. Occasionally she’ll take up the chase with a taunting squirrel, racking up miles at top speed. But she always returns to the very zen pastime of simply gazing at her back 40.
Meanwhile, Peach and Scout, the littlest girls and both piebald miniature Dachshunds, opt for a routine that I call “wieners on the grill.” They love sunbathing, and given even a stingy bit of sunshine they’ll stretch out loooong on the patio, looking every bit like they’re lounging poolside at their favorite tropical resort.
Peach has other favorite sunbathing spots around the yard — the back gate, the foot of the garden bed on the pea gravel, sometimes in the garden bed itself.
Throughout the day I’ll check their whereabouts, doing a quick roll call, making sure everyone’s well and happy (and not up to something they shouldn’t be). There they are: Scout (who is blind) invariably stretched impossibly long on the patio, Peach there too, or in one of her preferred sun-worshipping spots (the rays must be just right there — my little dairy-cow look-alike knows the value of location). Lu might be anywhere — traversing the yard in a flying red streak, vigilantly stalking a squirrel, or peacefully watching over her kingdom.
When it comes to little pieces of paradise, we’ve got ours. It isn’t big, and it isn’t fancy. But for us, it’s heavenly. Isn’t it something how the place we call home is made all the more precious by our animals’ pleasure in it? Giving them a good life is rewarding indeed. All the more gratifying knowing the hard places they came from and could still be in today, if alive at all. We’ve got it good!
Whenever I hear someone say about their lovebugs “They’re spoiled rotten,” I say, “As they should be.” And shouldn’t we all! My wish for you is that you can look out your own kitchen window, walk out the door to your back yard, breath in deep and feel that huge, fresh, wonderful feeling of . . . “I love this place.” It needn’t be big, fancy or expensive; it just needs to be your version of wonderful.
Yours in everything pet,