Laurel, my wife, and I live on ten acres in rural south Salem, Oregon. For thirty years I've had a love/hate relationship with our property. After moving here in 1990, we've done a lot to improve both the land and our house.
But it's a damn lot of work. And at the age of 71, I find that maintaining what we've got isn't as enjoyable as it was when I was 41. Yesterday I finished mowing some grassy areas with a walk-behind DR Field Mower. It isn't the worst job I've ever done. I just can't call it "fun."
However, as I mowed various parts of our property I'd notice things that would bring a smile to my mind, if not to my sweaty face. After I finished, I grabbed my camera and walked around the ten acres, looking for more of nature that raised my spirits.
Here's the result, along with some commentary.
If I were a small creature, I'd like to live here. Well, so long as it had fast broadband, something we lack in the "wilds" just six miles from the Salem city limits.
Our property is a great example of how ten acres can seem much larger, and way more interesting, when nature is allowed to be, well, natural. As you'll see, there's a lot of variety on our land. Which we don't view so much as ours, as being borrowed from nature for the time we're fortunate to live here.
This is an area with many small oaks that I always think would make for a great Haunted Walk around Halloween. In the brightness of June, it's got a warmer and fuzzier feel.
Trails crisscross our property where it's possible to keep them open with a mower. We call this the "Cut Through" trail because it connects the five acre lot where our house is located with an adjoining five acres that we were able to buy after we moved in. Daisies are blooming after the Wild Rose stopped.
Another part of the Cut Through trail. Leaving an area as natural as possible creates surprises that aren't available in an open field. What's around the corner, past the shadows? You've got to keep walking to find out.
Some tiny cherries from a tree that was here before us that we do nothing to maintain. Which, I guess, is why the cherries are so small.
Even in late June, western Oregon has an amazing variety of green, almost as much as in the spring
After having a portion of a large tree cut off that fell across a trail, some weird mushroom'y thingie is growing on the end. Such is the way of nature. Dead things lead to other alive things.
Spring Creek, a whole half mile long or so, runs through our property. It flows for most of the year, fed by (no surprise) springs that help keep Spring Lake filled. The creek is low in late June. Year-round, though, it creates a different ecosystem.
Whatever this bush is -- I'm terrible about plant names -- its filled with white flowers.
This marvelous large tree feels like its branches are protecting you when you're standing under it. Or sitting on a bench. A trail to the creek heads off to the right of the tree.
I recall that Laurel tossed out some wildflower seeds above the creek quite a few years ago. They're still adding a dash of color to the sea of green.
More wildflower color.
A few years after we moved here, we cleared acres of blackberries and planted many fir trees. Also, these redwoods. As redwoods do, they've grown nicely tall in some 25 years or so.
Some tall cottonwoods grace an area along the creek near the edge of our property.
Standing under the cottonwoods and looking up makes me feel appropriately small before what nature has wrought with no help from us humans.
Us humans did fashion this bridge across the creek and stairs up a slope. The rubber matting on the bridge comes in handy when it rains, since wet wood is slippery.
A number of sitting places dot our property, though I rarely sit on them.
This is another redwood forest, albeit with just three trees in it. Still, it has some of the feel of a "real" redwood forest. I grew up in Three Rivers, California, a gateway to Sequoia National Park, so I have a fondness for large red-barked trees. These are young'uns, of course.
This trail leads to Spring Lake, a few hundred yards away. Our neighborhood features 6 or 7 miles of walking/riding trails on easements that thread through our development, so you aren't confined to your own property or to a paved road.
This gnarly giant fir reminds me that old age can be impressively gorgeous even when it isn't traditionally beautiful.
Some of our seating places have become so overgrown they're kind of hard to distinguish from nature itself.
In the very wet year of 1996 several large oaks succumbed to the water and wind. We let the trunks lay where they fell. For 24 years this trunk has been rotting away, now being home to a prospering bunch of fungi.
An apple tree grows wild now. An old bench nicely matches its funkiness.
Another long-disused chair that reminds me how long we've lived here.
We've got lots of leaning trees, which sometimes turn into fallen trees. Often they last for a long time in a precarious state, which gives me some hope for my own longevity.
Lastly, a tree house built on top of a starkly leaning tree, known to my wife as "Brian's Folly" and to me as simply a little-used tree house. It's seen better days, so I've been convinced that it needs to be torn down. One of these days. I remember how long it took me to stain the wood a forest green, so I'm a bit reluctant to see it go.