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Finding Soul on Green Suburban Grass

The brown leaves are crumpled like fortune cookies across the long green grass. On this green patch of my neighborhood, no one mows because it is meant to be a bit of wild, a bit of no-footprint greenery that happens to lie between the mcmansions and the old town houses. Deer often appear in this area, and as we pass their scat on the ground, I have to pull back my dog as she poises herself to roll in it.

I live with my husband and son in one of the old houses. It was first built as a tavern and inn before the Revolutionary War then converted to a house when the church fathers decided to outlaw the tavern. We wonder if Washington slept here; imagine the guests who have passed through the doors. Some of the door jams are very low and some of the walls are that old plaster. At times, I remember that I’m just a wayfarer in a long stream of wayfarers in this house.

I love the swish of the leaves as I walk, how the sound of it soothes my aching for more land. But it’s not more land that I need; it is only this sound, this ancient and wise sound of crunching leaves. It is the trees, too, that make my heart feel lighter. The mix of bare branched trees, dried berries hanging on limbs, and evergreens, a visual bouquet of what my friend Jackie calls “nothing colors” — colors so muted yet their softness is what draws you in.

I am ostensibly here to walk the dog, but the greenery is luring me in. In this small patch of green, I feel a return to something. I run through the grass, and I let the leash long so we can run together with relative abandon. I lean against a tree, waiting for Maggie to sniff something that is no doubt foul to me, but is perfume to her senses. Taking her cue, I pull off a handful of pine so that I can breathe into it. I feel the ever-green place within me opening up, the place that feels full and rich and at home. The place that’s content with small amounts of green wedged between the worlds.