Using the lawn as a back-scratcher hadn’t occurred to me until I met Berkley, our almost-white golden retriever. He’d casually walk into the centre of the backyard and then flip onto his back, throwing all four paws in the air and wriggling his back. He’d leave a flattened patch that seemed oddly paler than the rest of the turf. Had his platinum blondness rubbed off on the grass or was the grass scorched by the blazing joy of his upside-down happy dance?
He showed me how to look at our garden differently in other ways, too. A fence does not demarcate property. It’s a closed circle around family, shelter, love. In quiet moments, it could expand to encompass a universe with just him and us at its centre. The essence of a fence is its gate–a portal through which another universe could be explored and also through which visitors appeared to be welcomed consistently with eagerness and an open heart.
He taught me that a bed of precious ornamentals and a burgeoning patch of weeds should be held in equal regard. Both offer riches–scents, wee critters, potential snack. Both can be flattened in an instant when the battle against squirrel or skunk is in play. I understand now that most plants, regardless of pedigree, can bounce back from a pummelling. Those that don’t, so be it. There are more important things to do in a garden than maintain status quo. Training eye and heart to revel in imperfect, transitory beauty comes to mind.
The ebb and flow of nature in our small garden continues but I’m enjoying it all from a wonderful new perspective and for that I thank dog.