Even though I am not what I would consider a winter person, when combined with a fresh February snowfall, the house presented all of the elements of a charming country retreat. A couple of friends mentioned how it looked like the kind of house you’d see in a Hallmark Christmas movie.
Having grown up in suburbia, I wasn’t a stranger to trees. We had a weeping willow, a crab-apple tree, cedar hedges and a few shrubs. There was even an apple tree on the property line with one of our neighbours. But as a kid, I never really thought about them. I just remember climbing them or making them into a big prop in whatever game my playmates’ imagination came up with.
Then came a decade of rental apartments, where trees were there for shade, shelter and beauty, but I never really gave them much thought. Even in the townhome where I lived for 20 years, the condominium corporation took care of the trees. The most I ever did was rake a few leaves.
Now, in a home with a tree-lined lot, I see trees differently, both literally and metaphorically. They are a source of pride and joy and we are so fortunate that our property has such a variety of beautiful trees. But the reality check is setting in: ongoing maintenance.
Sadly, there are a couple that aren’t doing well that will need to be removed, but that’s just nature and the circle of life at work. At the same time, we have a few majestic ones that we were told by our tree expert were probably standing since our great-grandparents’ days and will probably outlive us.
In having so many trees around, in various stages of life, I understand that getting acquainted with each variety individually and understanding their respective needs will be a project in itself.
But the one thing that doesn’t take a tree expert to realize is that when you have mature trees around, falling twigs, sticks and branches are a fact of life.
It doesn’t matter that there haven’t been gale force winds to knock them off the trees. Dry branches fall. Again, that’s just nature at work, especially after a summer with so little rain.
At first, I picked up a few branches and sticks here and there just to keep the front lawn tidy. But before I knew it, I found myself in a time-consuming game of adult pick-up-sticks, moving the dead branches from all around the lot to a more inconspicuous location until we can properly dispose of them.
After a couple of marathon sessions, sweating out sunscreen faster than I could put it back on, I figured that doing a little bit each day might be a better approach rather than overextending myself in lengthy periods in the hot sun. With skin that burns faster than bacon in a hot frying pan, I am painfully aware of my limitations.
I decided to make this one of my lunch time activities while working at home. After I gobble down a sandwich and some fresh local veggies, with what’s left of my “recess” time, I’ll spend a few minutes outside, enjoying the fresh air, sunshine and exercise, moving a handful of sticks and dead branches to the pile.
Even though we have some weeds in the front gardens as well as some more unpacking to do in the house that could be higher on the to-do list, a few minutes of pick-up-sticks has become a new hobby I have grown to enjoy. It doesn’t take much commitment and I instantly see the difference it makes to the outdoor presentation of our property. Also, as I see the pile of sticks and branches grow higher, the sense of productivity is undeniable.
Plus, with my busy work days that can escape in the blink of an eye, by having a purpose and making the time to stick my nose outside, I know that I will have made the time to enjoy the great outdoors while I still could. It won’t be long before another Canadian winter will be here. This way, I won’t be regretting not having spent more time outside, enjoying the property, while the nice weather was with us.
It’s not like I am anywhere near finished picking up the branches on the ground, but I have already found myself helping Mother Nature by getting out the pruning tools and snipping some dry branches that will likely be falling soon anyway. If someone had told me a few months ago that I’d be outside pulling an Edward Scissorhands, I would have told them that they were dreaming in technicolour… and yet here I am!
However, it doesn’t seem to matter how much brush I clear, with all of the trees around, there is guaranteed to be more sticks to pick up the next day. At first that was a discouraging thought to me, but when I see how much I enjoy taking these short strolls around the property, giving it the TLC it truly deserves, and how relaxed I feel upon returning to my desk, this new game has been a serendipitous discovery.
Plus, as an added bonus, I’m getting my daily dose of vitamin D.
I believe that this new found interest in exterior maintenance (that I’ve never had to commit to before), is just one of the first steps in falling in love with our new home and with pride of ownership setting in. I have always had pride of ownership with my previous homes, but the exterior maintenance was always someone else’s job. I surprised myself in finding out that I enjoyed it more than I expected.
The interior work can wait for the rainy days… or winter, whichever comes first.
Will weeding the garden be next?… Stay tuned!
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Have a great day,