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Sue's Muse - 7/11/11

Fri, Jul 8th, 2011
Posted in Columnists

Special Spaces & Oasis

Summer has finally arrived in full throttle. The asparagus season has come and gone in all its delicious variations. In our rock garden, tiny alpine strawberries are showing their red and white heads, each a mere delectable super sweet bite.

Sitting on the patio as I pen this column, a silky breeze strokes my cheek as a female oriole with its orange markings sips nectar at the feeder. Yesterday, as I scanned a planter of pink begonias and bright green sweet potato vine, I heard a whirring noise and looked up to see a hummingbird hovering at the feeder. A peach-flowered abutilon, once belonging to my mother-in-law, blooms in the corner and more pots of begonias sit atop an ancient washtub stand, bought once at an auction. Watering cans and tools in a clay pot sit on a table in front of an old wooden cabinet, the finely carved flowers on its front barely visible, gardening stuff protruding from its shelves.

Our private piece of nature boasts numerous flowers and a variety of herbs and vegetables strewn about and in raised beds and growing on structures, along with fruit shrubs and trees. It is our own little patch of heaven, and no matter how glum the mood, it always gladdens the heart. From my view on the patio, I can't help but reflect on the value of our own backyard retreat. It is not only a valuable source of food to make the tastes of summer to please our palette, but also a source of the natural healing that comes with its serenity. It is our special space and oasis.

On sweet summer nights, my husband and I sit on the patio and listen to the birdcalls and discuss what is going on in our lives and community. Lately our talk has turned to the nine hole Frisbee Golf Course the Lions Club has constructed out at the Trailhead in Harmony, funded by a SHIP Grant (State Health Improvement Program). One of the goals is to increase community physical activity. We tried out the course with our family and everyone gave it a thumbs up for a whopping good time. Two of the dads received a set for Father's Day and 7 year-old Natalie used a regular Frisbee. A set is about $30, or regular Frisbees can be used by all ages.

One night I mentioned the e-mail received about another SHIP Grant received by Dr. Randi Berg at Gunderson Lutheran Clinic in Harmony. Her goal is to promote healthier lifestyles among her patients, especially the children, and for them to enjoy the produce in the raised bed gardens and the sensitive plant, teddy bear sunflowers, strawberries, dragon's tongue beans and chocolate peppers.

We have also discussed our Garden Club Progressive tour and dinner. My husband will fire up the wood-burning oven to cook pizzas for the group after touring our garden, one stop among many.

Recently, I listened to an author talk about his book on the radio on what he called the "Nature Deficit". He asked how many times his listeners had gone outside that day. In a world of computers, TV, and video games, he felt it was more important than ever to introduce children to the value of nature and exercise.

As I wander the garden admiring the recent blooms of the soft blue Russian Sages and cheerful golden Black-Eyed Susans, and check out the progress of the peas and heirloom Silver Fir tomatoes multiplying daily in a raised bed, I feel the calm only nature can offer. In a fast-paced world it is more important than ever for adults to have their own backyard spaces and oasis to escape the pressures of everyday life and unwind.

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