Monday, May 11, 2009

Advantages of being Disorderly

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is
constantly making exciting discoveries.
A. A. Milne

I cannot remember when I became aware of this quote*, but it describes my philosophy very accurately. I like reading articles which report that children who grow up in excessively clean homes are more likely to develop allergies. Our mother taught us to make our beds, do the dishes, and keep the bathroom clean and I make sure these tasks are done. But daily dusting, vacuuming and floor washing would reduce my discovery time to an unacceptable level.

Gray Catbird

Our next door neighbour uses the corner of the yard adjacent to our deck to pile her yard waste. It is quite an eyesore and we built a privacy screen around our deck to hide the view. A rusting, roofless shed contains old firewood, and pruned branches from her shrubs are thrown against a broken up picnic table. Lilac bushes on both sides of the fence provide plenty of leafy branches for cover. The area has become an ideal place for birds and small animals to rest in between visits to my feeders.

Female Eastern Towhee on the brick border of the garden

We live in a very typical urban subdivision but have had some interesting visitors this spring. Besides our usual numbers of Chickadees, House Finches, Goldfinches, Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Robins, Blue Jays, and Blackbirds, we have a resident pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches, and visiting White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Pine Siskins, Hermit Thrush, White-throated, White-crowned, Chipping, Song and Fox Sparrows, Cedar Waxwings, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Cooper's Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pine Warbler and this weekend, an Eastern Towhee and Gray Catbird. The last two visitors prefer thickets and underbrush and our neighbour's yard provided the perfect environment.

The "disorderly" corner of our neighbour's yard, bottom left

My husband will not keep a messy yard, but the brick work he built around our flower beds and the mulch under the shrubs have also attracted birds. He also avoids the use of toxic lawn and garden chemicals. We were all amused by our visitors this weekend. The Gray Catbird aggressively chased the other birds and squirrels away from the feeders until it was done. The female red squirrel is nursing her babies and comes boldly for quick treats on the deck. I have not found her nest yet, but watched her move one of her babies in her mouth across the top of the fence. By the time I got my camera, she was gone. We also watched the male Cardinal lovingly feeding his mate, beak to beak, while sitting on the fence outside our window.

Being a little disorderly can be a good thing for sure!

*I saw the quote on Michelle's blog


  1. I changed my housework schedule to a little bit each morning before work so that I can have my weekends free to be outdoors. The period of good weather is too short!
    That's a nice selection of birds you have visiting Ruth. With my neighbor planting his empty lawn with trees, I am curious to see what new birds might check my neighborhood out.

  2. love that quote. I'm with you on the theory that one can spend too much time on housework, and not enough enjoying nature.
    You have an amazing number and variety of birds. Great pics!

  3. I hate housework and would much rather be a disorderly adventurer. You really have a great variety of birds visiting your place, even if because of the neighbors junk pile. Great captures as always.

  4. Well, you certainly do have an active yard.
    When we lived in our former house (almost 30 years ago) we began a brush pile along the lines of what you describe. As it grew, we had less incentive to clean it up. Then, when we sold the house, the new owners to be stipulated that we had to clean up the pile. So, we did. And vowed not to ever repeat that--which we have not where we live now.
    But, if such a pile were to attract creatures, hmmm--nah, I think I will keep our place pile-free.

  5. Every time I see birds in my garden these days, I think of you, and wish I had my camera at hand! Love the quote too. A house cannot be so orderly that there is no time for discovery!

  6. I'm with you Ruth. I doubt seriously that at my funeral they'll say I was a wonderful person, if only my table hadn't been Love seeing all your visitors!

  7. Gorgeous shots!

    PS - I'm about as disorderly as they come!!

  8. I have to admit that I'm a disorderly person and housework is not on the top of my list. There are far better things to discover then the number of dust bunnies under the bed.

    You are having a great number of visitors to your yard this year. Wonder if they secretly know that you can't get out so easily to see them so they are coming to you? That Towhee certainly is gorgeous. I have heard the catbirds, but have not spotted him...yet!

  9. "But daily dusting, vacuuming and floor washing would reduce my discovery time to an unacceptable level."

    That has become my new favorite quote. Great post!

  10. Enjoyed your thoughts on yards and housework. And the lovely Catbird - all that somber gray and then a pair of red "drawers"!

  11. A wonderful quote! I was just thinking about something someone said to me when I was pregnant with my son--that she had five children and it wasn't until her fifth that she realized that she needed to worry less about picking up all of the toys and more about playing with her kids. It has resonated with me ever since!

    Your photography is beautiful--I JUST saw my very first Catbird on Friday!

  12. Oh yes.Being disorderly has definte advantages.Think of all the photo opswe would miss while dusting and cleaning.My theory is :Our house is clean enough to be healthy,and dirty enough to be happy.

  13. Ha! Good post! I agree. That certainly is a good list of visitors to your yard!
    We now have a groundhog visiting, who likes to eat the tender green shoots of my flowers! I need something to scare it away!

  14. Anonymous9:24 pm GMT-4

    This is a great post Ruth. I used to have to keep such a neat house. Getting sick has taught me to let go of some things and save my energy for others.....I love all the yard visitors....

  15. Thanks for all the comments from readers who believe some disorder is a good thing. You all have your priorities straight! :-)

  16. I just discovered your wonderful blog and photos. I'm in Maine and it seems we have the same feathered friends visiting our garden. A few days ago was the first time I had noticed the Eastern towhee in our yard and the orioles, catbirds and hummingbird have joined the regulars that have been here most of the winter....

    This is a favorite quote of mine:
    "A home should be clean enough to be happy and dirty enough to be healthy."

    best wishes,
    Nan at Furry and Feathered Friends and Shells and Roses

  17. Howdee Ruth..
    I am far from disorderly in my Home.
    Living in a small space of less that 400 square feet..(Our Motorhome), I like things to be orderly and in place..I find that if everything is put away after using...there is nothing to clean.
    We dont wear our shoes in our less cleaning and vacuuming. I do vaccum once daily..and it takes me ten minutes..tee hee
    The cool thing about living in a small space...when I do clean it takes no time at all..
    So yes..I am orderly...but I have plenty of time for my passions.
    If I had a home..I think I would still be orderly..and would take too much of my time to clean...So this is small space works for me.

    I know what you mean about brush piles and that kind of disorderly...great for the birds..

    My car on the other a crazy mess...with bins for hiking gear, and backpacks and bird, wildflower and tree books..and full of sand and mud...and is rarely washed.


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