I live in the woods. My small house and garden have been here for decades, but this place retains a wildness of its own. Native blackberry canes invade the vegetable garden, and the surrounding forest surreptitiously expands back into my relatively insignificant clearing. I appreciate the shrubby new growth for its twiggy-leafy tenderness and the wildlife that comes to forage amongst it. While browsing deer and porcupines represent a nuisance to most gardeners, farmers, and homesteaders, I find it a distinct pleasure to experience them in such close proximity.
Going out to exert some control over the wild vegetation, I find myself loath to slash flowers or food for wildlife. In summer the blossoms buzz with insects and bees, and flutter with butterflies and hummingbirds. In late spring, the deer browse delicately through my side yard, grazing on jewelweed leaves where there will someday be a fruit orchard, fenced in against their appetites, with undomesticated forage beyond.
There is wildness, but also peacefulness and pattern in the nature around me. I recognize that making accommodations for my own needs is not necessarily an improvement over nature, but I inhabit the land among the others who live here. The deer know I pose no threat. Chickadees engage me at the sunflower seed feeder. Crows cruise the compost pile and when they see the feeder is filled, blue jays call to their family group with the one clear ringing note in their repertoire. My relationship with the resident wildlife is co-existent; we observe each other making a living.
Maple, ash and cedar surrounds my house and garden, sheltering me from the worst of the storm winds. Sunsets brush gold on the treetops; silver moonlight threads through the branches. The wildness that remains here is the spirit and intention of forests, that inherent urge of living things to continually salvage life out of adversity. It simultaneously contributes the energy of progression, and provides rooting space for my own need to touch Earth. This isn’t just where I live; it’s how I live.