I forgot to mention that when we got home at 1am last night, we found a Christmas tree lashed to the towering ash tree in our front yard! It was attached to the trunk by a whole bunch of plastic wrap, about six feet up in the air! It was quite a sight. I found it hilarious, but Matt got a little worried, wondering how long it had been there. He was concerned it was like a billboard flashing "No one's home! Go in and take stuff!" Luckily, everything in the house was intact. And it turned out that Arin's mischevious/industrious friends had only put it up the night before. They had to use a ladder. I really wanted to take a picture of it, but Arin had dismantled everything by the time I woke up today (and then it turned out that we lost our camera somewhere on the way home anyway. I hope America West will find it and return it to us. So many precious pictures in that camera.)
The ash tree had dumped almost all of its leaves while we were gone (and I don't think it was because it was frightened by the Christmas-tree wielding boys!) They were everywhere--blanketing the yard, the driveway, the front porch, the sidewalk, the street in front of our house. A whole little ecosystem had developed amid the leaves; a tree stump in the front yard was blooming with the hugest mushrooms I've ever seen. Dozens of them, about the size of salad plates. I should look up some information and try to identify them.
It's quite amazing to see what happens to our yard without any human input. It definitely takes on a real life of its own. Not that we do a lot to tame it when we're here. We pretty much let it run wild, only mow when things are looking really shabby. The hibiscus and birds of paradise plants keep blooming and thriving without any help from us. A tiny kumquat tree by the front steps is fruiting this year--we've been here six years, but only realized it was a kumquat tree last year when a couple of tiny fruits emerged. Now, it's postively springing with them, and we did nothing to encourage it; it has its own internal urges. The Mexican sage under the ash is going strong (although a friend has told me we should prune it if we want it to be healthy. And I keep meaning to, honest. But it keeps putting out velvety purple flowers, regardless.) I love how nature keeps cycling. One day, I'd love to learn how to really care for plants--I hope to have a vegetable garden in the backyard at some point--but I also love watching them do their own thing, without any human attempts at control.
The yard is still covered with leaves, but Arin and his friend (one of the tree bandits) raked up the walkways today, so it looks a little less chaotic. But chaos can be a friend. Entropy can be a friend. Change can be a friend. I wonder what would happen if we never touched a rake again, just watched the leaves decompose, watched what sprouted from their mulch. I'm sure the neighbors would not be too thrilled. But I kind of would be.