Place Where You Live:

Morganville, New Jersey

Nature is not always beautiful. The word “nature” often conjures images of lone forests and dew drops and bright birds and the green green green of everything. This is nature, abundant with vitality and fertility and everything that postcards flaunt. People travel across states, across countries, across continents to see such beauty in the secluded corners of the world. Perhaps necessary travel, since most of that beauty doesn’t exist anywhere else.

But what happens to the rest of nature? What happens to the grass growing in the cracks of the sidewalk and the accidental oak sapling growing flush against a building? What happens to the omnipresent pigeons and dandelions?

My backyard isn’t beautiful. The grass is freckled with yellow and brown, speckled with dead leaves from the oak, and each side of the lawn is of its own thickness. The right is lush and verdant with tall weedy grasses and dandelion stalks, The left is sparse, covered mostly by moss and shriveled orange mushrooms that look like fallen leaves. The center is its own colorful motley of mystery. Near the fence, the decorative bushes and little ornamental trees are overgrown and strangled by new invaders, such as a twiggy maple that comes up to my chest and the poison ivy weaving its way through branches.

My backyard is not beautiful. But my backyard is home, and is a place that shaped me to be who I am now. It is the place I played as a child, running round and round the sole tree and rocked in the rusting swing that stood there once. It is the place I walked barefoot in the grass, squealing at the cold wetness of the dew. It is the place where I lay on my stomach under the summer sun. It is the place where I escaped to when overwhelmed.

Nature is not always beautiful, and neither is my backyard, but it need not be beautiful to be a part of me or to be home.