My garden is wedged in the corner of the chicken yard’s fence and a tall board fence that separates us from our neighbors. The soil is a sandy desert beige, and Red Ants roam the sand. It is more like dirt here, where we have supplemented the soil with manure and bags of mulch. Several rows of edibles take up the garden, that are flooded daily otherwise the plants will wilt and die.
I have created a hide away in the corner, underneath the old apricot tree. A self constructed fence separates me from the outside; Sunflower stocks woven together with tree clippings, a spindly web that stretches across an expanse. From here, I can see the entire backyard. I toss peanuts to the chickens while sitting in a old butterfly chair that I remember towering over me as a little kid. The three chickens Creeper, Maude and Lady Eowyn come in, cautiously through a hole in my barrier I left for them.
Sometimes, my dog comes and sits in my lap, and we watch the silent yard together. He flicks his ears at an unheard noise, or pokes at the breeze with his nose, smelling a dog, or his equally pungent owner.
Or Lady Eowyn will come sauntering up, looking for companionship, clucking a soft, inquiring greeting. She might fly up to the top of my fence and perch, level to me so we can converse. She turns her head sideways to look at me the better, her fiery red eyes a remnant of dragons that walked this earth once.
I will inevitably catch the sickly-sweet odor of the neighbor’s laundry detergent, driffting from their open laundry-room door. The chickens peck at the ‘compost’ they give us(or what is left that the dog didn’t get into). Good bread, bagels, and hot dog buns, still soft and not the least bit stale. No vegetables.
Once, I was in my hide out when the neighbor started spraying the rocks on the other side of the fence from me, toxins permeating my lungs like cigarette smoke. I had a headache for the rest of the day. I am constantly in culture shock even though I have lived in this country my whole life.
But mostly, I just love hanging outside. I talk to my mom as she waters about how this or that is growing, those green tomatoes we found tucked away from sight today. I sit in the old bleached hammock under the grapevines(save me some mom) and the prayer flags. I weed until the dirt cakes my knees and is ingrained under my finger nails.
I spread birdseed out. I have tried to stay still, waiting for the birds to come and land in front of me.
But they never do.