Spring has sprung in South Texas.
I can tell by the loud machines cutting, whacking, and blowing my neighbors’ lush green, weed-less lawns into perfectly manicured submission.
The high-pitched noise permeates the brick walls of my suburban home and wakes me up from my slumber almost daily.
My backyard is probably not the nicest one on the block. It’s a simple quarter-acre square hidden behind a worn and weathered wooden fence; the tops of its graying pickets brittle from the elements and gnarled by clawed red feet of the fat, iridescent pigeons who like to perch there. Some of the boards need new nails and are barely hanging on.
It’s been a while since I’ve spent time in my yard and the neglect is evident.
The fallen, brown, dead leaves still cover the ground under my old, white oak tree, already beginning to sprout its new yellow-green spring foliage. I’m grateful the tree survived a rare arctic storm that devastated my state this winter, so I give it a hug in thanks—the trunk’s bark rough under my fingers that would touch if they were six inches longer.
The rest of the yard has grown wild and unruly, full of spikey broad-leafed weeds with colorful flowers, some reaching as high as my hips. There is no turf in sight.
In the sunniest area, two-foot-tall ryegrass with its glossy green and silver seedheads looks like green waves of wheat gently blowing in the wind.
The shady sections like to grow horse herb and wood sorrel, both sprawling ground coverings growing a few inches off the ground with small green leaves and tiny yellow flowers.
Yellow is the favored bloom color of most of my backyard weeds, and the dandelions that morph into white puffball seedheads are a proliferous resident.
I am delighted to find bindweed, a native wildflower vine that has small morning-glory-like blooms about the size of a silver dollar with white petals and a purple center.
Sadly, there are not many places these vital animals can find to eat, rest, and reproduce without the risk of dying from the harsh chemicals, so many of us use them for super-artificial looks.
I smile as I watch the cutest little brown birds with bright yellow bellies landing on the three-foot-tall dandelion stalks, having a feast on the feathery white seeds.
I notice bees and wasps foraging on all the yellow flowers, big and small, and some butterflies too.
I even see some orange and black polka-dotted ladybugs and their elongated striped larvae hanging out on prickly thistle weed, likely eating plant pests my neighbors would rather kill with poison.
I like to keep most things as nature intended. I don’t like using chemical-filled fertilizers or pesticides because of the devastation they cause to our planet.
I grew tired of keeping up with the Joneses a long time ago, so I don’t care if my yard looks perfect. Its imperfection gives it purpose, and that’s good enough for me.