“The earth has its music for those who will listen.” ~ Reginald Holmes, The Magic of Sound.
You would be forgiven for not seeing them right away…so small among the tall summer flowers.
The mean Grackles left as quickly as they appeared…their little fledglings grown. Good riddance! And in their wake, the hummers are back.
Just in time to drink up the best of what the garden has to offer.
It seems that the staples of Penstemon and Salvia are nothing compared to the feast of Agastache and Bee Balm perfectly situated under a favorite tree for cover and rest between acrobats and nectar sips.
Winter became spring and spring became summer since I last wrote. I don’t know where the time has gone.
Leaving my freelance work for something more secure seemed like a wise course during the pandemic – but it turns out to be a decision I regret and am trying to rectify.
I have lost not only my flexibility, but my personal time for the things I love. If the last year and a half has taught us anything, it is that life is too short to not find time for the things we love.
Since I last wrote…
Skye King has been through two successful surgeries to correct his severe hip dysplasia. After five months of fostering, we made him an official member of the family. It took 40+ fosters, but we are finally “foster failures.”
Skye’s proven skills at puppy fostering helped to seal the deal. For the past two months, he has helped us rehab little Aiden who was found by the side of the road with a broken leg at barely four months of age.
Aiden found his forever home yesterday. He was a very hard one to part with. Our home is quiet once again but not for long, I suspect.
Jody’s garden has been completely rehabilitated as well. The raised beds were cleared and planted – now overflowing with fresh vegetables. The weeds were tamed and the orchard has flourished and produced. The fruits are still small but show promise for future years.
The Memorial Garden has bloomed continuously with the change of seasons. First bloom was spectacular…
followed by vibrant summer colors, apricots, overloaded apple trees, and grapes.
Some very annoying Grackles have taken up residence.
I used to admire them for their beautiful iridescent feathers – but no more. They are aggressive bullies and have chased away all the sparrows, robins and hummingbirds to guard their multiple nests. I’ll have to figure out a way to roll out the “unwelcome” mat!
Our new “normal” is dry, hot, and filled with the threat of wildfire. We had our first scare earlier in the month with a grass fire marching right up to our gates.
It is mid-June and we are just shy of our 200th dog of the year. The wave we anticipated has arrived and we are inundated in post-pandemic one-year-olds without training or socialization and seniors in need of medical attention. As people go back to work and the adventures they have missed, it seems that the companions who saw them through are now a burden. We are tracking at a +30% increase for the year.
Maize, meanwhile, was our 10,000th dog. An adorable impulse purchase by a senior couple who had forgotten what it takes to raise a puppy right.
10,000 rescued dogs. A promise made; a promise kept. Jody is smiling from on high.
We had an honored guest in the garden this weekend.
Laure is a master gardener and the original architect of the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden going back more than ten years.
Her design drawings are still housed in our shed, although the garden has morphed quite a bit over time.
The plan called for themed beds. Some, like the White Garden and Rose Garden bed are still as intended. We found that others like the Iris Bed were magnificent in spring but did not offer enough interest later in the season. Things got moved around, repeating patterns of color and shape throughout. It makes for a cohesive approach that moves in waves from one season to the next.
The original plan was much more tidy than the garden today. But crowded beds offer more cooling root protection in our hot summer (and fall!) months and help to keep the weeds at bay.
What Laure was marveling about most was the size of the trees. Back then, the garden was bathed in full, unrelenting sun all day long. Now, the trees have matured and we find we need to move plants into pockets of sunlight outside their shade.
She arrived just in time to see the asters in full fall bloom. And she marveled that a seed of an idea for what she called a “collar tree” became the metal weeping cherry tree whose branches are adorned with the tags of dogs who have come through our doors. To dream a garden and see how that it has flourished…
We learned the garden will be acquiring a new feature. A small chapel is planned as Jody wished to house the ashes of the Homeward Bound dogs who came to live with us in Sanctuary or who were helped to the bridge to end their suffering. Jody kept their ashes in her home all these years with dreams of a final resting place for them.
Life and family commitments pulled Laure away. But she laid the foundation of what this garden has become. We hope that she will return with the time is right. In the meantime, she has plans and plants to share that will assist our Monarch friends. A beautiful addition to our beautiful garden.
I am trying desperately to keep up with the advancing spring…in January! Crocuses, hyacinth, narcissus…even ceanothus and mid-season tulips are pressing up.
We only had two days of mild frost this “winter.” The roses were still blooming when we did our annual pruning.
There is no stopping the youthful march of spring now – either in the garden or in the dogs’ Senior Yard.
Affectionately referred to as Sugar Shack Acres, this is where dogs that are unable or unlikely to be adopted due to their extreme special needs live in their own little house and large shaded yard, surrounded by love. Since 2012, Red has reigned over this sanctuary section of our rescue.
At the age of seven, Red and his cohort of feral friends roaming a property in Oregon were rounded up by cowboys, put in a barn, and adopted out to an unprepared public. Turning a feral dog into a family dog is not for the faint of heart – especially a dog that has lived wild for seven years. Accounts are that most of the dogs found their way back to the wild. The woman who adopted Red quickly understood what she had gotten herself into and surrendered him to us where he would be safe.
It took a long time for Red to feel comfortable. There is still a part of him that is very much wild. If given the opportunity, he would still run. But now – at the age of 15 – he has found peace and contentment (and cookies!) in the company of like-minded dogs.
Like winter, they had settled into a gentle quiet. And then…
Over the past month, a series of boisterous youngsters sprang up like spring bulbs to disturb his tranquility. First, Brie – a one-year-old girl with an old lady problem (ectopic ureter).
Then, Laila – a ten-month-old hydrocephalus (water on the brain) girl. She is blind – but that doesn’t slow her down one bit.
And now CoCo – full of spunk and play, hanging out while she waits for her forever family to take her home.
They have recharged the visiting Ladybug….
and then exhausted her.
While Red and his fellow seniors, Violet,
and Tana must be wondering…who let the pups in!
It’s inevitable Red;
spring will come whether you are ready or not – so embrace it and enjoy!
My author friend met through this blog, Stanley Horowitz, has just completed his new book. Titled “Can You Read the Tea Leaves of Autumn: The Poetic Wisdom of the Four Seasons,” he shared a copy with me. I’m not sure of his plans for it, but I hope he finds a way to publish it. The book is a continuation of the theme established in his now famous quote with his keen and poetic observations of each month of the year. The final chapter is “The Poetic Wisdom of a Good Life,” written by a man who says he has been blessed with good friends – life’s perfect gift.
I turned instantly to April, and found this: “April is the launching pad of gardens.” And now the garden has brought those words to life.
The roses are in first bloom,
the trees (save one which is worrying me greatly) are in full leaf,
and the garden is exploding with purple,
Through the winter and early spring when people are kind enough to compliment the garden, I say “just wait.” Well the wait is over and it simply takes my breath away.
Now “just wait” until these little sticks on their own launching pad turn into summer Dahlias!
We launched a few more pups into new chapters as well, saying “happy life” to Gridley,
and Norman this weekend.
Rusty went to a family that has been adopting from us since 2000, and Norman to a wonderful gentleman who posts a “happy life” comment on every going home photo we put up on Facebook. He was looking forward to his own photo when the time was right – and he hoped that he could help one of the dogs who came to us from China. He got his wish on both fronts today. Knowing the conditions from which those dogs are rescued, he is looking forward to giving Norman the life he deserves (in other words, he will be spoiled rotten!).
We also said goodbye to our dear Old Bud.
Found by a good Samaritan on New Year’s Eve, he went unclaimed – but a number of people noted that he had been seen wandering around for some time. He was microchipped, but the phone was disconnected and the people no longer there. He was at least 12, maybe older. A matted mess who could barely walk when found. His kind person took him to the groomer and to the vet. He had an irregular heartbeat, cataracts, and weakness in his back legs. And while his body would not do as he commanded, be thought he was large and in charge and had something to say to every dog at the fence! His “only dog” attitude is why he stayed with us instead of being scooped up by one of our volunteers or fosters: everyone has dogs – an occupational hazard. But he was cared for and spoiled during the time we were able to share with him. Safe journey, sweet boy. We’ll see you at the bridge…and play nicely up there please!! You were loved.
Winter arrived with a blast of cold. It blanketed the garden in little crystals and frozen bird baths each morning for a week.
A final whisper from the north to the garden: “go to sleep.”
We have learned to let the garden stand instead of conducting an end-of-season clean up. The dead stalks provide cover from the cold for the future growth below.
While we have had some nice December rainfall, the total still put us at “average”; nowhere close to what we need to begin a recovery from our prolonged drought. I wish there were a way to relieve the rest of the country of the water that inundates them. Mother Nature is a fickle mistress.
They say the El Nino is now upon us. In a supreme act of faith, I completed raising the beds to protect them from the flooding they say will ensue –
and buried a shelter in Ina’s garden for our feral kitty. Shhh…don’t tell Ina. (Note to my sister, the cat rescuer, yes…our country cats have been neutered or spayed and have plenty of warm spaces to shelter with extra food and water.)
The holiday pines were recycled to mulch, and to provide the blueberries with the acid they crave.
And the birds are well fed.
In the next few weeks, we will prune the roses…all 43 of them…and the grapes.
Now begins the time when every day turns up another treasure – a hint of how the garden will take shape this year.
Lots of people appreciate the final result, but a gardener takes pleasure in watching each step that unfolds from their labor.
Now I know, a refuge never grows
from a chin in the hand and a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose. ~ Indigo Girls
It’s a cliché – and it’s true – anything worth having usually has to be worked for.
I hear over and over…”We’re looking for a young dog.” What they often really mean is, “I’m looking for a perfect young dog.” They want a dog that is socialized to others, bonds quickly, has impeccable house manners, and knows all those things we call rules (don’t we all?!). When a young dog has all of that going for it, it is because someone invested all of the hard work required to get it there. And you generally won’t find them surrendered.
Our young four-legged kids are generally not “perfect” – because someone didn’t take the time to make them so. But that does not mean they don’t have the potential. Young rescue dogs are often like adolescent humans in so many ways. Willful, a little wild, often insecure, sometimes mouthy, but ultimately trainable and loveable – if someone will just make the effort.
Our Lucky is one of these.
It pains me to see him passed over because he is still a work in progress, especially at his young age of eighteen months. He’s thoroughly adorable – if a little rebellious – and a bundle of playful energy.
He would make a perfectly devoted and active companion for someone willing to accept a dog with “some assembly required.”
With a little time and some work, you’d be amazed at what takes shape.
“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Jody Jones is Homeward Bound’s president and our tireless leader; a woman with a passion for rescue. She and her husband, Mike, planted the seeds of Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue & Sanctuary years ago. Over time, it has grown into something truly remarkable.
The Memorial Garden was her vision as well. With saving lives as the priority, the undertaking was frequently sidelined. For years, it remained mostly a dream. But Jody is a woman full of (stubborn) patience, optimism and determination. “Tomorrow’s another day; it will be better,” is a familiar refrain. After years of fits and starts, the right mix of gardeners finally came together three seasons ago to make it a reality. I think Jody simply willed it into being.
Her latest project developed in much the same way. It is for the garden.
Jody and her father created it together. Over-sized coils collected over the years;
a giant hole dug in the ground – waiting; a pole eventually planted in concrete; a plan clear only to the two of them.
Finally, this artful, rusted metal version of a weeping cherry tree sprouted from their labor.
The tree will don the most special leaves; the tags of thousands of dogs who have come through our doors on their way to their forever homes. Some wait for us over the Rainbow Bridge. Saved, remembered, and cherished here.
Of course, exactly how long the process of adding thousands of these “leaves” will take remains to be seen. But no matter. “Tomorrow’s another day.”
This beautiful piece of art is a gift from father to daughter and daughter to father – a remembrance of time shared together.
It is a gift for all of us as well. A lasting tribute to all the golden friends that we have known; and a reminder of why we do what we do.
I’ve learned that the best gardens are patchworks of the found, shared and transplanted. The trees, flowers and shrubs of the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden are a collection of new, old and passed on beauties.
Some arrive on our door step. Other have been lifted from gardens we love – always with permission, of course!
Their common destination is a loosely structured garden with unique pockets created for the creatures who inhabit it. Bunnies, birds, snakes, pesky snails –
and dogs, of course.
Like our plants, they arrive from everywhere. Jersey Girl – one of our newest arrivals – traveled all the way across the country from Tennessee thanks to a network of folks dedicated to rescue. Her adventure took over two weeks of travel and foster. Passed from one to another like a precious gift. She is terrified of thunder and her people knew that our quiet valley would be a better place for her.
Eve was found wandering. She was accompanied by a large tumor – likely from raising too many puppies – and she is almost completely blind from cataracts. If we can successfully do away with the first, we hope to remove the other and restore her health and her sight.
Some arrive on wings – like our Taiwan dogs…
and a prayer – for a new life and a forever home. Surrendered, found, rescued.
Rescued dogs – like rescued gardens – return their good fortune a hundred fold.