Ferns and bugs have overflowing daily itineraries throughout the plot of land above our house. Fallen branches rest on the blanketed ground with no one to pick them up. Creatures are unaware of the busy patterns of those accustomed to running from poison lines or glue traps. Occasional human footsteps contribute to the symphony of the space, but falsely identify as the lead. The clovers hold no grudge after being trampled. The roots and moss do not see the barbed wire fence as a barrier. The branches arching over the fence posts do not live to see freedom.
Our house rests on a plot of land that was once connected to the first. There are still some trees and vines discouraged from moving together in the wind. They are rigid with the fear that if they issue a threat to fall, they will be cut down in their sleep. Fourteen years ago, the trees were so close that they could play hide-and-seek with one another. Now, they have become their own barrier as they decompose along the perimeter of the plot.
Uniformly processed trees, treated so that they would not rot, then nailed together to form boxes replaced the original trees. Gravel replaced the dark soil to combat weeds. Pleasant companions replaced even the smallest of creatures. Even the replacements are replaced as we develop demands and grow out of old wants.
Thirteen years ago, there were enough trees to get lost. There were hills made of mud and a frame of a house. There was concrete tumbling in mixers and gravel spread out in square sections. Now there are log piles lined up along the fenceline.
Trees do not grow in square sections if they are planted by the wind. They do not conform unless they are met by a sharper wit. They grow up, down, and sideways without checking a compass. They seek out sunlight and grow where the water is best. Most people grow up, some grow sideways, but we all find ourselves planted firmly in the ground. We do not conform unless we know we will lose. We look for brightness but seek shelter from the rain. We admire rainbows from under umbrellas and then write about how powerful the rain is.
10 years ago, a garden replaced yet another group of trees. A portable playset was centered in a grassy front yard. More trees were added to the perimeter of the plot. As the perimeter grew, there were fewer human footsteps to disrupt the branches. The completed house was not satisfactory. Another frame replaced more trees.
Ferns follow fractals that we can only dream of replicating. Blueprints do not replace the patterns as well as we think they do. Ferns spiral into order whilst we spiral out of it.
Five years ago, the barrier around the perimeter of the plot grew so that the ferns were left unvisited. The symphony contained no human footsteps. Lemon and orange trees attempted to fill empty space. Avocado trees relocated, but did not find dirt mounds suitable places for growing. Mango trees decided that the ground was too dense and took a nap instead of digging deeper.
Three years ago, the garden was abandoned. The compost pile disappeared under a layer of overgrown grass and weeds. Two years ago, it was found. The trees left abandoned cannot be found under the barrier they have been forced into. They cannot grow back in a year.
One year ago, our dog ran into the vacant lot and it was filled again with footsteps and frantic yelling. Human gaze disrupted the empty space between the trees. Footprints disrupted the patterns of creatures hiding in the patches of grass. Only a few feet away, we replaced the rusty springs on the trampoline. We uprooted patches of grass and ferns to make room for more replacements. We took nothing from the vacant lot aside from its neighbor. We took nothing except the space in which creatures lived and on which trees could move freely. We took nothing, but replaced everything.