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  • Writer's pictureThomas Lawrence Toscano

Celebrate Your Backyard

I had the great pleasure to spend time this week, on two separate occasions, visiting a sacred space that at first glance just looks like a house, or a barn or both. In fact, it's both. Although, the barn and the house are on two different sides of the road. On one side, there is a very large garden, chickens, bee hives, fruit trees, berry trees, berry bushes, a gazebo, a fire pit which doubles as a portal a gazebo, two sheds (or 3) an outdoor shower and a functioning out house (there's also indoor plumbing of course). There's also a grape arbor with grapevines, which have grapes currently growing on them all perched above a wonderful slated seating area with many outdoor tables and chairs. From these tables you have a full view of this spectacular garden and directly behind you is a narrow indoor greenhouse of sorts which acts both as a buffer and as a passageway to the kitchen/gathering room that is under the meeting area on the second floor. Whew! That was a lot of detail. I hope you have the picture.

Now, on Wednesday, Alice, who is the owner/creator of this vibrant paradise which is bordered on the west by the Williams River and a soaring ridge of pine trees, suggested shortly after I arrived that we go and pick goumi berries.

What? You don't know what goumi berries are? You're looking at them in the picture above. And, they are delicious, a little tart, but quite delicious. Here is a link where you can read up a bit about them.

Alice and I were harvesting berries from the tree which stands about 12 feet tall. It's a big job and we had been there for quite some time. We each had rather large plastic baskets, akin to half size laundry baskets. They were perfect for what we were doing and their strength and flexibility allowed me to perch one in the tree and use two hands for harvesting. I cannot tell you the amount of berries --- what an abundance! and the majority were quite ripe.

As we were harvesting we moved around the tree. Alice, being quicker than me was on the opposite side of the tree as I began to move towards her, I heard a rustling out in front of me and looked up to see a very large robin nestled in the branches (which are not that large) eating berries. What amazed me was just how close the Robin was to me and the fact that he didn't care. We were harvesting, he was harvesting. I came around the tree passing Alice and settled picking on another part of the tree. A few moments later as we continued to talk and plan for another inspiring project, I heard a lighter more delicate rustle. I looked up and there was the chimpmunk above, clearly the star of today's post. There she was completely comfortable, once again, very close to me, just outside of arms length, as she ate at her leisure. Again, we were harvesting and they were harvesting. A bird, a chipmunk, Alice and myself. There we were, four creatures, four beings, four animals, all harvesting from this tree, in a garden bursting with life and food of all kinds, in the town of Chester, in the county of Windsor, in the state of Vermont (or as I refer to where I live in its original name, the Republic of Vermont) on planet earth.

It was a revelatory moment. I hadn't been as close to a small creature eating since I saw a mouse eating a leaf beneath me at the age of 7 or so, while I was fishing on a dock alongside Lane Gate Rd., in Cold Spring NY. I remember like it was yesterday, there was a little mouse beneath me as I sat on the dock fishing, sitting up and eating a leaf. I heard him munching, looked down and there he was! Now, here I was standing harvesting berries joined by these two residents, who shared their tree with me. It was one of those moments which freeze in time and freeze you there within that heavenly moment. When you truly can understand that all is actually perfect. All beings are one, all entities are one, all is one.

YOU have a place which in its own way is just like this vibrant refuge. Your backyard, or front yard, or the plant sitting on your desk, or, or, or. It's all there for you to see, enjoy, experience and celebrate. What can I say? We are all blessed with so much, how ironic it is that all we need to do is perceive it. Enjoy what you have around you. What ever it is, where ever it is, celebrate your backyard. It is the universe and it will teach you all you can learn, if you let it.

Thank you Alice for creating this paradise, this life present which you share so readily and all you do to nurture it's magic and life force. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it. Thank you for the gift of the robin, the chipmunk and every cascading marvelously spontaneous generous moment.

Thank you all for being with me here. Thomas

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