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Growing up, I never imagined myself settling down in suburbia, but through a series of choices (some good, some bad) this is where I am today. Honestly, I’m not thrilled about it — those who know me well know that I’ve been ready to chew my leg off. I long for some place wilder and greener — some place where I can have huge gardens, a dog, and open spaces.

We are working toward that goal, but it’ll probably be a while before all of the needed elements come together. This spring I decided that the healthiest way to cope with my frustration is to make a greater effort to “bloom where I’m planted”. The other phrase that kept floating through my head was that I need to just “grow some grace” and trust that my goals will come to fruition when the time is right. It occurred to me that one of the best ways to achieve this would be to plant a patio garden as both a symbolic and tangible representation of those goals.

Thus far, my garden isn’t terribly impressive. It is beautiful and green, and it’s been very satisfying to see my little seedlings grow — but it’s a tiny space, and heavily shaded at that. I’m rooting for my tomatoes and peppers (no pun intended) but it’s looking kind of iffy as to whether or not their fruit will ripen before the rains set in. The upshot of growing this little garden is that it brought me outside more, and caused me to notice the wildlife that surrounds me, even in suburbia. My complex is a haven for birds including a HUGE flock of ravens, as well as sparrows, robins, finches, jays, woodpeckers, a flicker, a peregrine falcon (although the crows tend to run him off quickly) and an osprey nest. I’m pretty sure that’s the mama in the above photo — at least, it’s the largest of the family. She likes to roost in the tree above my balcony in the mornings, so I get to enjoy her while I tend my garden. I found the feather to the left* after one of the fledglings’ first test flights, which was my pleasure to watch.

There were four of them out there that day, soaring and singing overhead. Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing here, but their songs sounded positively joyful — even celebratory! Coincidentally, this was the same day that my daughter moved into her own place; I’m choosing to take this as an auspicious sign. Whether it’s a good omen or not, it has made me so happy to see this raptor family nest and grow outside my window. I can’t explain it, except to say that it does my heart good to see that even here in suburbia — land of mini malls and plastic people — there are still a few things that are free and wild.

* And before anyone lectures me about the feather, yes I am aware that these are protected/illegal here in the US. I did not keep it, but I did grab a photo in order to study the markings and (hopefully) better recreate them in my own work. For some reason, these barred/raptor feathers have always been hard for me to capture realistically, so it’s nice to have a real life reference to work from.

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