Cutting Grass on a Sunny Day

In airborne school we cut the grass with scissors. I didn’t realize how important the lesson on patience, tolerance, and acceptance would be on my life, especially in parenthood. Not to mention how grateful it made me for lawn mowers. I didn’t appreciate them quite like I should have. What do you not appreciate quite like you should?

My beautiful bride, Savanna, being followed by our daughter, Primrose, as we mow our friend’s yard. We have been housesitting for them the past week and are certainly enjoying our mini-vacation only a few blocks away.

Our yard has too many holes and humps to use a lawnmower, so we use a weed wacker on nearly 2 acres. It can be a real pain in the butt, no doubt, but it sure beats using scissors! And since we only do it a few times each year, so the bees can graze on fireweed, dandelions, clover and comfrey, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. We hand weed around berry bushes, apple trees, and vegetables. It can certainly be a lot of work, no doubt, and after mowing our friend’s yard in less than thirty minutes we might have to reassess our game plan.

Sometimes it takes a change of pace and a change of perspective to see the things in life that we take for granted.

We have been searching for new ways to make our life a little less chaotic. Does anybody else feel like all they do all day is clean and tidy up? That no matter how many times you sweep, the floor is still a sandy beach without an ocean view! We do laundry and hang dry, then after we fold the clothes our daughter always wants to destroy the ones that have been folded, so we refold them. It’s crazy! How can we have time to do things that spark joy when we are literally running in circles all day?

Savanna found these baby chicks in a grove of trees the other day. The grown birds had left them to hide near the yurt, so she picked them up and brought them to where we are housesitting. It’s a little late in the year for these birds to survive our cold nights, so they more than likely would have died if she wouldn’t have picked them up. While she may not be an EMT or somebody running into a burning building to save a life, she saved two lives that day. And look at the joy and magic it brings to our life!

Since we’ve been staying at our friend’s place we have been taking full advantage of their unending electricity. We’ve been watching television and movies like never before, using their dryer, dish washer, swim spa, bathtubs, instant coffee maker and space. Our 700 square foot house gets a little tight with our three dogs and cat, so it’s been nice to be in their big home where it seems like we can spread our wings a little bit.

Nala, the big old dog on the left, is somewhere between 11 and 13 years old. She slobbers, snores and constantly has ear infections, but she certainly loves babies and brings so much joy to our family.

We have watched every show so far that features Marie Kendo, and have begun to ween through some of our things during home visits. For years I have prided myself as a “simple man” without many belongings, how blind I was! I donated four overflowing boxes of books that I don’t want to carry into my future, books I have not read and have no interest in reading, others I have read multiple times but don’t need to read again. This has freed up space in our room for “our” books and new opportunities. We tore down every poster I had harvested from walls in Canada, Denmark, Guatemala and USA, they plastered the kitchen walls, hiding the unfinished, water stained, peeling mud and tape for too many years. (Is this a metaphor for looking at ourselves? I believe so…) This is not an easy process, no doubt, especially since I have been holding onto my late mother and father’s belongings, including my brother’s, so it’s been hard to get rid of many objects, especially pictures and artwork! But I have to make room for my new family now, bring light to the home, and hold my parents’ memories in my heart and let them go. We are really excited to do this process, to lessen our stuff and to cherish the gems. And we hope that by doing so we will reduce the amount of cleaning, tidying, picking up and searching for things, while discovering a new way of looking at each other and our belongings.

Picking Saskatoon Berries for market the other morning. How lucky am I to be able to earn a little bit of money doing what I love? To have an overabundance of food right outside my door! To have a freezer full of salmon and berries, a home full of love, and a yard full of food. We are a blessed family, and it’s easy to forget that when you’re knee deep in chores.

To bring this full circle, too many times in my life I have struggled through something without being able to see the bigger lessons. As a young alcoholic with shitty school attendance, during my two years in Iraq as an infantryman, during the death of my parents, feeling like an alien at college, and now as a parent and husband with a beautiful family. The most important lessons in life are learned during the struggle, and I am grateful for those struggles. I may not act grateful when my old dog is panting non-stop like she’s in the desert, the puppy is chasing the baby, and the baby is tearing apart her dresser. I may not act grateful when the chickens leave piles of manure in our walkway and our baby puts her hand in it then eats it. I may not act grateful when I sit down to read a few pages of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park right when the baby is waking up from a nap. And I certainly may not act grateful when it’s 12 am and Primrose refuses to sleep in her bed without her mom, and all I want to do at the end of the day is lay close to the one I love. But you know what, I am grateful for those times, and while I may not be great at showing my gratitude when I’m pissed, annoyed or frustrated, I am working on it. Heck, I am a work in progress. Without these moments, I would not appreciate holding two baby chicks in front of my old dog, beautiful wife, and baby daughter just before mowing the lawn on a sunny day. I wouldn’t appreciate the stillness of fall and watching the yellow leaves fall from the birch trees. No, I would still be trying to be a famous writer, chasing some wild dreams, or being a depressed alcoholic stuck in my self-despair.
And thanks to Marie Kendo, I am also becoming grateful for my cherished belongings I used to merely call “stuff.”

Primrose thinks it’s funny to climb the stairs and go into our friends room to play with the pill bottles. No matter how many times we chase her, close the door, put something in front of the stairs and tell her “No!” she still goes up there to play with the pill bottles. So finally, we’re letting her! Who ever knew that pills could be a great marimba?!

P.S. Savanna and I just celebrated two years of marriage! Miracles do happen! Perhaps the patience, humility, tolerance and acceptance I learned while cutting grass with scissors is what has kept us together during the tough times.

Published by secretgardenalaska

Best friends raising two daughters off-grid in a remote area of Alaska. We grow food, write stories, make jewelry, and live a sober life.

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