That’s how my small house and property have been described by visitors. It is helpful to me to hear such evaluation. I tend to become so accustomed to my surroundings, to my home, that I forget how special it appears to others, and how special it is, in fact, to me.
An artist, who came to stay for several months, painted the scene at the back terrace, including the animals, and titled it “Peaceable Kingdom”. Not that it is always peaceable. We have our moments.
Sometimes, when I am not engrossed in the everyday details of living and keeping some alleged control over the “kingdom”, I take a breath and see at least some of what is here.
A creek is nearby, with all it has to offer: soothing sounds, fish, crayfish, birds, bugs, and a multitude of fishermen when fishing season opens. It is a salve to the chaos of living, usually gurgling, and roaring after a good rain.
A satellite photo shows trees, and more trees. If you look carefully, you can see the roads. The “gardens” are plush at this time of year, when there has been adequate rain. My compost pile is my vegetable garden and summer respite, after wintering inside, for the avocado trees that have volunteered there. Former owners established a nice arboreal framework. Other plantings are simply what has appealed to me, and it’s an okay-you’re-on-your-own-now situation. Either they make it, or they don’t. Every year there are new Maple trees, “scrub” trees, and wildflowers. If I didn’t prune things back, the house might be swallowed. Fortunately, for me, there is only a small “lawn” to be maintained. Lawn is a euphemism; it’s some grass and lots of “ground cover” which could be anything – violets, ajuga, dandelions, plantain, bird seed sproutings, etc. It’s only a weed if you don’t want it.
People say there is a beacon on my house, so many stray animals show up. Some find their own homes, thanks to the local police, animal control, and those who offer to house them. Some stay.
When one such visitor, a young Tabby cat, cried outside my bedroom windows for three nights in a row, he was lured into “captivity” with food. He was skin and bones, and had a broken leg. That was Smokey Joe. After a vet visit, neutering, the mandatory rabies vaccine, and an assessment that the leg was healing well on its own, he came “home” with the proviso that he could seek a new home anytime. He’s still here.
It is such a similar story to finding another Tabby that I wonder if it is coincidence. Probably not. Many years ago, I found an adult Tabby cat in my compost pile, holding down a corn cob with one paw and trying to chew on it. He was not scrawny but he was clearly hungry, and he had a broken jaw.
My partner said, “You’re not going to keep this one, are you.” It was not a question. I looked at the cat and mentally asked its name: Stirps. I thought it was a mis-spelling in my mind because the cat had stripes. But when I looked up stirps in the dictionary, it said “of the family”, a legal term commonly used as per stirpes. I told my partner that Stirps was of the family: he was staying. And he did so for about ten years before he died of old age.
The animals come, eventually they die, and they are appreciated for who they are while they are here. Who could ask for more?