SOMETIMES IT’S THE SMALL THINGS in life that bring the most joy. And that adage can apply to gardening.
On a July trip to Madison, Wisconsin, to see family, Randy and I explored a block square residential area near our son’s apartment in the Atwood Neighborhood. This east-side area offers an appealing mix of single family homes, apartments and multi-family housing mingling with home-grown businesses. Add in the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, bike trails and Lake Monona and this part of the city presents an attractive place to live, especially for young professionals.
Typically, Randy and I would explore Madison with our son, daughter and her husband. The city has much to offer in the arts, architecture, food and beverage scene, and the thriving Dane County Farmers’ Market centered around the state capitol (except now). But, because of COVID-19, we have limited our activities to walking. The daughter also lives next to a recreational trail on the opposite side of the city. Madison seems a model for getting around by foot or on two wheels versus solely by vehicle. Plenty of green space also defines this city.
From our stroll around the block, I observed how residents value their neighborhood. That shows in well-kept homes and yards, with flowers aplenty replacing the typical lawn. I love that concept of filling one’s outdoor space with plants and flowers. It seems more environmentally friendly and artistically inviting than a manicured, chemical-laced lawn.
While taking in the nuances of the neighborhood, I discovered a sweet surprise in one yard. Mini garden art. Tiny scenes created with miniature figurines. Mostly rabbits. The unexpected find made me giddy.
Together Randy and I scanned the yard, spotting these magical scenes among spiraling prairie dropseed grass, at the base of trees, upon and next to rocks. For a few moments I immersed myself in finding and then photographing the mini garden art, all the while almost squealing with delight.
Randy alerted me that the homeowner was watching through a window. I hope he understood, while watching, just how much I appreciated his efforts that brought joy into my summer afternoon.
Sometimes that’s all it takes. A little effort. A little creativity. A little caring about your neighborhood and about others to make a difference.
Especially during a global pandemic.
© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Please check back for more posts from a more recent trip to Madison.