My family and I recently moved from the busy Seattle suburbs out into a quieter, more rural part of the state. The air is clean, the farmland verdant, the trees large and mossy. Nature revels itself in every corner; sometimes with pleasant surprises (a cluster of wildflowers) and sometimes though an uncanny overabundance of spiders which, while keeping the mosquitoes at bay can nevertheless prove disconcerting to a "city girl".
I have settled amacably into this snug new life, pleased at the opportunity to own land. Used to my own habits, and happy to be free of apartment living, I wander outside inspecting the 1/3 acre that to a native of NJ is a sprawling wonderland.
With my hair tied back in a loose pony tail, dressed mainly for comfort, I break out my cell phone and a small garden shovel and plop myself down at the edge of my driveway to begin my battle with the encroaching weeds that have begun to lay claim to to the gravel. The cell phone provides my distraction. I set my b-berry on speaker and dial my parents. The call will be pleasant and last approximately 2 hours. More than enough time to wage my war on the forces of vegetative chaos.
Lost in a good conversation and the montony of pulling up each weed one by one (and uncerimously tossing them into one of the 10 gardens conveniently left by the previous homeowners) I do not notice as an elderly woman slowly approaches me.
I hear a quiet cough... "um... are you okay?"
I lift my head and shield my eyes from the sun as I gaze up at a tiny woman of about 85 years, carrying a disproportionately large broom. It is probably a foot higher than she is; she clutches it like a weapon.
"Hi, good to meet you" I say wondering why she's on my property. Perhaps she's the welcoming committee.
"What are you... doing" she asks. It suddenly occurs to me how I must look- in my sweats and tennies on my knees wrestling with dandylions and a bevy of strange northwestern plants I don't recognize. Sweat on my forehead, talking to some unknown source (the cell phone lies next to me several inches away). My parents hear me talking and offer their regards to the myserious figure. She doesn't hear them.
"Ah... I'm fighting back the tide of nature in my driveway- and talking to my parents on speaker phone" I quickly add, holding up my blackberry as evidence. I'm half inclined to blush but think better of it. I instead grin at the sense of entitlement to be silly on my own property. Then it occurs to me that she's in my front yard and must have specifically stopped what she was doing to check on my mental well being. "Thank you so much for checking on me, I'm so glad to meet you".
The woman still looks a bit confused, and perhaps a bit disappointed that I am not quite as unhinged as she had expected. I smile once more and point to her broom... "and what are you doing, out of curiosity?" The question is tinged with friendly curiosity.
"Me?" She asks. "Why, I'm chasing the squirrels out of your yard". I can hear the "pop" sound of her husband's .22 as he takes out any remaining rodents within firing range of his property.
I nod and wave as she wanders away. And I know at the moment that we will live happily and harmoniously for many years to come.