I read recently about a woman who was frightened of a roadrunner that was repeatedly visiting her yard. She’d never seen one before, having grown up in an urban environment. The bird was not being noisy, like peacocks. Nor was it tromping on or eating her plants, as deer do. It was just hanging out. Being larger that most backyard birds, the roadrunner was a source of fear for this woman.
But rather than calling a specialist to remove what bothers you, let’s consider an alternative solution – taking the time to learn about the natural environment and your reaction to it.
If you are using an Elderyarding® approach for your garden, you know that a series of exercises is used to identify your unique sensory perceptions about the natural world. The most important aspect of these exercises is discovering your sight, smell, touch, taste and sound preferences coupled with your memories of nature.
Explore what is pleasurable and not so pleasurable about being outside. Then you and your landscape architect can use this information to create a new or rearrange the existing landscape around you.
Say you remember having a pet chipmunk when you were a child, so you plan garden spots to enjoy watching and talking with critters. Talking? Well, yes. If you’re the type who talks to your pet dog or cat or goldfish, you’ll find yourself talking to the critters outside, too.
While chipmunks can be beneficial, eating harmful bugs and slugs as well as seeds and nuts, they do like to settle in your home, chew wires, and make nests. Your choice, then, could be to watch chipmunks in nearby parks, and to entice bluebirds or butterflies or toads - or roadrunners – to your home’s garden instead.
Spending some time reliving times when you were outdoors while growing up, mentally walking and playing around your urban home again, can yield surprising memories of the natural world.
If you’ve spent much of your life in an urban world of buildings and pavements, you may think you have very little awareness of nature. But nature gets a foothold in the most surprising places, even in oceans of concrete. You can build on these memories along with your sensory preferences to create a rich landscape that will continue to nurture you for a long time.