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Don't step on the turtles - Morning Meditation


My neighbor, Ann, started gardening in her front yard with beds of black eyed Susan, lavender, and cone flowers.  Gradually, over the years, she converted her entire backyard into a wonderland of beds featuring lilies, zinnias, and sunflowers. She built a children’s garden for her granddaughter and a pond larger than our pool. She had a shade garden, fruit trees, and a fair amount of vegetables.   Wildlife was abundant in this oasis. Birds, turtles, bunnies, squirrels, frogs and fish enjoyed the bounty of her labor. Ann fretted over too many fish. She cursed the birds for diving into the pond to eat them.  She netted her fruits and vegetables to protect them from rabbits and squirrels. But she was quite fond of her turtles.  Each morning they made the trip to Ann’s back door to await their breakfast. She always set out lettuce and fruit for them.  

 I regularly visited Ann’s backyard very early in the morning for quiet time to paint. With my paint box and sketchbook under my arm, I eased the latch up on the gate as quietly as possible and slipped in the yard. I carefully maneuvered my way through the turtles already making their way to Ann’s back door. I found a quiet spot to settle and paint while the shadows were long.  There’s a lot to be said for time alone in the early morning.   The birds were busy with their babies.  The fish would occasionally leap out of the water to catch a bug and then slide back into the pond.  Sometimes a gentle breeze might still be moving around the trees before the summer heat set in.  Gradually I eased myself into the garden and my painting, blocking out everything else. Eventually I would hear Ann in the kitchen. Sometimes she was surprised to see me, and sometimes already knew I was out there. By the time she came out, it would be time to pack my paints, head back home and get ready for work.  I’d chat a few minutes with Ann while she fed her turtles. Sometimes she would show me a new addition to her garden, or take a look at my still wet painting.  Taking care not to step on a turtle, I would head back home feeling peaceful and ready for the day. 

sketching Anne's Garden


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