We are putting a small vegetable garden in our little patch of Eden here, but that means ripping 400 square feet of ground from the very tenacious grasp of natural forest. Even then, this is not garden-friendly territory as the thin layer of soil sits on a bed of rocks, which also have to be removed in order to give any plants a fighting chance. Twenty or thirty wheel-barrow loads of topsoil and peat moss on top of all that, and hopefully we’ll have a vegetable garden – or at least a damn fine buffet for the deer.
So yesterday was a hard day, turning the soil by hand, pulling roots, lifting rocks, and trucking dirt around, but the best part was when I stopped for a beer break mid afternoon, and not just because I wasn’t breaking my back any more. No, it was the best part because I just got to relax, sit back, and listen to the sounds of the country.
We’re not so isolated that we don’t hear man-made sounds from neighbours, or a plane-load of travellers on a high-altitude flight path, but yesterday all was still – idyllic really. So against a back-drop of twittering chickadees, nuthatches, finches and other songbirds, I was able to just sit and listen: the toc-toc-toc of a pileated woodpecker hacking great holes in a nearby tree; the rustle of dried leaves as squirrels and chipmunks raced around on their busy way to somewhere else; the squeal of a red-tailed hawk on the hunt; the buzz of blackflies looking for a meal in my inner ear; the gentle whisper of a southerly breeze in the tops of the pine trees.
For those few minutes I was in a different place, transported away from the work, the muscle aches, and all the other worries of everyday life.
That’s why this place is so good for the soul.