I came across some lyrics that really resonated with me today from a little-known Mumford and Sons song:
"If you want to feel alive, then learn to love your ground."
Love Your Ground.
I love that sentiment! I think Marcus Mumford meant it more esoterically, as in even though there are things you would change and dreams as yet unrealized, you can always find joy in where you are in life right now, and in the people who are around you. It certainly carries weight for me in that sense, but I think the lesson also has merit when taken literally.
In my closer- to- four- than- three decades, I have lived on everything from a 100+ acre farm to a condo to a quarter acre town lot, and in each of them I was able to forge a connection with something of the natural world, even when the nature offerings were quite few! One of my husband’s earliest memories of me, in fact, was his realization that the girl whose smart-alecky comments caught his attention in photography class and the girl in a yellow raincoat chasing a frog into the pond behind his residence hall, trying to get a picture of it, were one and the same.
I’m a big sense of place person; I can still conjure the feel of each past abode. And many of my strongest memories of these places involve the flora and fauna that shared the ground with me. There was the snake who liked to hang out in a small landscaping bed next to my townhouse entrance, the northern harrier whose low patrol over the field behind last year’s rental house thrilled my girls and I almost daily, the redbud sapling given to me by Dick Young that we planted outside the living room window of the old house we fixed up – our first real house. That one was hard to leave, largely because of that tree! I’m still getting to know the ground I’m on now, having just moved here a few months ago. But I’m finding a lot to love!
In all of these places, I had complaints, worries, things I wished were different. Though I wasn’t necessarily aware of it , I think connecting with and rooting for all of these other lives around me, wherever I am, has kept me from focusing too much on areas of discontent, given me some perspective, reminded me the world is bigger than me. And trying to add something, to leave these places a little better than I found them, has given a refreshing sense of purpose. All the world’s a stage, and the daily dramas and character development happening right outside my window tend to be far richer than whatever I’m creating in my own head! No matter how much stress and concrete we are surrounded by, there is an ever-changing sky above, an ever-fruiting ground below…and probably a coyote around the corner.
As yet unsuccessful in correcting my five year old daughter’s slight misinterpretation of the "Golden Rule", which resulted in her telling me I wasn’t doing the Golden Rule because I scolded her for pushing her little sister, I’ve taken to telling her to "give love to get love." (Yes, I am aware the same loophole exists in this condensed version, and don’t worry – the five year old has found it!). But I think that approach has merit in thinking about your home landscape, your ground, as it were. If you find that immersing yourself in the fluttery flight of a butterfly can distract you from whatever you are struggling with at the moment, plant some milkweed for monarchs, some carrots for swallowtails. Here’s a nice website for learning what types of butterflies need what plants: http://www.butterflynature.com/butterflies.html.
Maybe your preferred distraction is bird watching. Plant some native shrubs for cover, put up a few bird feeders, and you’ll have distractions without end! Install a rain barrel or two to keep those new plants watered, and pat yourself on the back for all of the precious rainwater you are conserving. I find immense, possibly borderline snooty, satisfaction in puttering around the yard with a watering can full of pure rainwater I’ve collected. The point is, what you put in to nature you get back a thousand fold. Nature only enhances joyful moments, and is a beautiful escape from difficult ones.
Our Conservation@Home program offers lots of guidance on how you can add to the environmental health and aesthetics of the ground around you – click here to learn more!
Regardless of where you have been and where you want to go, there is beauty to be found in where you are right now, literally and figuratively.
if you want to feel alive, learn to Love Your Ground.
By Jill Johnson
Image Credit: www.elephantjournal.com