The Hügelzaun Experiment

I bought this wonderful little house just over a year ago. There is so much story behind that one sentence, but I’ll save that for another day, another post (or two).

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something marking the borders of the property for many reasons. Mainly, I wanted to traipse freely and do projects and sit quietly and observe in the small wooded section behind the house without worrying I was going into the yards of my neighbors.

But, also, I had concerns about the neighbor directly behind me (through the wooded area) when I first moved in. Legitimate safety concerns. I was constantly trying to balance trying to be more community-minded and open with using wisdom and paying attention to internal alarms. That house is now empty (not as a result of anything from me–I really was trying). I’ll leave it at that.

Back to the property lines: At first, I thought of a second chain link fence (I have a fenced-in portion for my dogs – but there is a creek, so it would have had to be a separate space. But, chain link was so unnatural in this more-natural area of the property and, because of the creek, I would have had to parcel up the land too much. Plus, I wasn’t even sure it was feasible among all the trees.

Then, I thought of planting a line of trees and bushes to make a screen and a hedge. But, I was afraid that those particular neighbors would trample the young bushes to intentionally destroy them or just out of carelessness as they regularly visited the creek and cut through to this side of the neighborhood. And, how do you dig holes for root balls in an established wooded area? Nonetheless, I was at the researching native plants stage (slooowly).

Then, I saw a infographic for Hügelkultur as I was quickly scrolling by on Facebook. That was it! The inspiration I was looking for. I had plenty of old tree branches lying around that I did not want to send to the landfill but was still figuring out their purpose here. It would be natural, blend in with the wooded area well, and demarcate the property lines that I had had surveyed a year ago. And, now was the perfect time as someone seems to be hauling trash away from the property behind me, probably in preparation to put it on the market.

So, while I waited for the power to come back on post Tropical Storm Ian today, I was hauling rain-soaked decaying branches around in near 100% humidity. I did think it was apropos that I washed a cute little twig out of my hair on the same day that I finished reading Rooted (by Lyanda Lynn Haupt).

I was also removing debris that was caught on the footbridge over the little creek and figured this was the perfect place to deposit it.

I will be honest. I have no idea what I am doing. I don’t want to delay starting this project until after I have researched and learned all the things. So, this will be a learning-in-process and adjusting as I learn — an experiment. I figure I will be slow enough that I hopefully can not do significant harm to the land and its habitats.

Very glad to have an excellent pair of boots while working around a creek after a tropical storm.

Surveying the world the morning after Tropical Storm Ian. Luckily, we were mostly only dealing with a lack of power.


I dragged a piano with me all over the country – literally. There was nothing particularly special about the piano except that it was my piano and I loved to play it. I am not particularly talented. I can’t play by ear. I have to practice a lot and, even then, I’m not a good accompanist or performer. I just enjoy it. The concentration it requires of me drives out any thoughts, so it is a bit of a meditative medium that also happens to include music. It is responsive to my moods and can respond to my fury or frustration and slowly transform and mellow it–or laugh along with my joy. And so, I dragged it from place to place.

Pianos are heavy. And take up space. And cost money to move, even if it is “just” the cost of renting a U-Haul.

Eventually, I ran out. I ran out of energy and space and money. I gave my piano away. I told myself that I was becoming a person who was lightweight and mobile and carefree. I have always moved. It is in my nature.

With this recent move, I had major anxiety thinking about buying a home. A home would be kind of permanent. It would be settling down. It made the most economic and autonomy sense, but, what if I wanted to move?

I bought the great little house. It’s been about a year now.

Yesterday, I bought a used piano, and it was delivered today. Pianos are heavy and don’t pack into cardboard boxes. If you want to move, they require planning, decisions.

But, oh! they invite you to sit
and pour yourself into their keys and
hear the sounds of your soul.

Next Project & Next Conundrum

A next project and a conundrum were already brewing. But, I have been reading When by Daniel H. Pink and I moved them both up in priority.

There are two issues:

  1. I want to supplement my swimming, but something with A/C due to the the unbearable heat-humidity combination during the summer afternoons and evenings here.
  2. I want to have the type of social interaction that is not scheduled – people I like but that I meet up in a completely unscheduled, unplanned, no commitment type of way. Especially now that I have dropped both volunteer positions.

I had a previous solution that addressed both problems: I had found a group exercise class I was very interested in that met multiple times during the day. Perfect. I could show up to whichever session I wanted. But the demands of my current schedule and responsibilities are not allowing it very well.

Now, I need to come up with separate solutions.

The Next Project

The project addresses supplementing my swimming.

I have great gym equipment that I love (major pieces came from Craigslist).

The equipment is in a perfect space in the basement. No A/C, but definitely cooler down there. The perfect space, except . . .

except, it is kind of dark down there, and I never finished unpacking.

The pile of stuff remains after the move because I have no easily identifiable places for the items. It is depressing to see it or even think about it (which is probably why I have not yet picked up the stuffing from obliterated dog toys that you see on the floor).

So that’s the project: Make the basement gym more inviting so that I will use it. That means dealing with The Pile, fixing the lighting, and fixing one of the doors down there.

The Remaining Conundrum

The conundrum is how to increase my social interaction options in a way that works for me.

I am an introvert. I like to think that I would be a happy healthy hermit. I do lots of studying and solo hobby activities that I truly love. Truthfully, though, I probably should supplement my work and family interactions with other social encounters for optimal balance and better breaks from my discretionary work (When).

Given the resulting limitations on my schedule from the previous disastrous month, I don’t know the answer to this one. Yet.

Rippling Rainbows

Things have not gotten better. In fact, improbably and unexpectedly, the hits have kept coming. Like dominos. I thought we were at the end of the set, but apparently not.

I slept well last night, but woke up with a mind still trying to decipher the riddle of how things were continuing to get worse. By the time I arrived at the pool to swim laps, my anxiety was ramping up enough that I was not sure I could swim. Irregular breathing and a racing heart make carefully timed breath-taking somewhat difficult. But, I continued on and hoped for the best.

Usually, swimming is almost hypnotic for me. The rhythm of my strokes, seeing my own arm curve out of the water, catching a glimpse of other arms curling back down to the surface or pushing through the bottom of an arc. The changing patterns of light on the bottom of the pool. The swell as an adjacent swimmer flips the turn. Either the ambient sounds muffled by the water in my ears or my immersion into the music coming through my earbuds. Sometimes, I have to consciously remember not to close my eyes, consciously remember to turn my head to take a breath (probably because I mostly breathe on every other stroke right now rather than pushing through to air hunger).

Not this morning. This morning, I could not compartmentalize.

I kept swimming. But, it made me frustrated and sad. I was looking forward to relief from the mental and emotional searching.

And, then

I noticed the sun was rising. I think today must have been my first day swimming at this pool in which they opened up the east-facing sidewall. It was glorious. With each breath, I marveled that I could see the sun peeking through the trees. With each lap, I noted its full circle becoming more visible. At that end of the pool, rainbows began to ripple low in the lane next to me.

On the sun-kissed turns, I did not hurry my own rotation. (I have not returned to flip turns, myself, just yet.)

It did not calm my anxiety, but it distracted me just a tiny bit and, still, it was