Backyard Beauty

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

13 August 2020

The Beginning

We’ve eaten breakfast. I’ve fed the dogs. The chickens are out. And I’ve got enough cold brew in my system to effectively navigate the day. One glance at the clock lets me know there’s one hour until I must begin my workday. I take one more swig of cold brew, pop my head into the living room where my children are watching TV, and enthusiastically inquire, “Who wants to play tag?” That’s naturally followed by my running right past them and out the front door. I can hear them giggling as they jump off the couch and dart out the door, dutifully closing it behind them to keep the indoor bug population to a minimum. This is by far my favorite way to start the day. My daughter announces, “You better watch out, Mom, I’ve got super speed.” And as she tags me, she cackles. Since it’s already 84 degrees, the running doesn’t last much longer than five minutes, but that’s okay. We’re outside enjoying the backyard.

Once we’ve all effectively caught our breath, my son looks at me and asks, “Mommy, will you lay on the hammock with me?” Could I reply with anything except, “Of course!” I think not.

The three of us lay next to one another and stare at the shapes in the white clouds as they float slowly along on the bright blue morning sky. My son sees a dinosaur, my daughter sees a princess wearing a tutu, and I see a hippopotamus. Another ten minutes go by and their attention span has shifted. They are now collecting dandelions to decorate the hammock. This is what life is all about. Being together, being present. It’s not obtainable to have these meaningful experiences consistently all day, but I’m glad they can happen. And they do happen. I’m grateful I’ve learned to appreciate them.


The End

The sun has started to set. The sky has begun to darken. I’ve finished my dinner, along with the dishes. And my children are with their father. I can’t help but think of our morning, so I spray myself head to toe with DEET, and head back out to the hammock. The sun hasn’t fully forfeited its reign in the sky, and I watch the bats haphazardly flying around feasting on the very bugs I’ve tried to protect myself against. Slowly but surely the stars begin to reveal themselves. They’ve been there all along, but the sky was too bright to notice them. I think of a Dr. Martin Luther King quote,

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

One visible star becomes two, then the number climbs to seven. I feast my eyes on seven bright stars shining in the cloudless indigo sky.

Before I can spot the eighth twinkling heavenly body, an overwhelmingly large and fast-moving cloud enters from stage left. One by one, the stars disappear. I’m no longer looking at the shapes of the clouds as I was this morning, but now I’m looking at the shapes in between the clouds. I see a boat, a dog, and a flower. And if I focus in the right areas, I can see the stars pop through intermittently.

The crickets and the frogs are providing a beautiful soundtrack. And without warning, the clouds completely pass. The sky’s curtains have been pulled open and now there are 16 shimmering orbs taking center stage. After I spot the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, I decide it’s time to go inside and drift off to sleep.

Today began and ended in the same geographical place, with much different scenes. The world is a beautiful and ever-changing place. We can find beauty in our own backyards if we look for it. Sometimes there’s no other place to be. Sometimes there’s no better place to be. I’m grateful to have opened my eyes to see the beauty in my backyard – and in everyday life.

Open your eyes. I’d love to share what I see with you.