Joy Kreves
My back yard, Ewing, NJ

Story Info

Story & Experience

Because the grove destruction was to take place over a 2-week period, I did several GExs. The first one was the most remarkable. I picked up some broken cane sections, broken flower pot and other yard garbage, and made a very stiff bird.  I was feeling very critical of my bird, how brittle it looked, when I noticed something odd in a pile of yet-to-be-removed debris. At first, I thought it was a moldy puffball but when I lifted a little flap of fuzz it became an old stuffed bird toy! I have no recollection of it ever belonging to my now grown daughter or our dog. It must have lived in that grove for a very long time, so much softer and more alive-looking than the GEx bird I had just laid out!  Somehow it was amusing and made me feel better about not needing to feel so utterly responsible for what happens there.

The ground had been 100% moss-covered before, to my happiness, and it was very stressful to watch that be ripped off. I just want the moss back. But in the meantime, I knew I had to plant something affordable, so that my white dog would not come in all muddy after every rain, so with regret I had it reseeded with grass, and did another GEx. Again, the old bamboo was all there was to make my bird from, but the brilliant little embroidered flag and the memory of the stuffed bird gave me hope that the currently barren site will come back to something beautiful and peaceful again.

Why this Place?

My back yard, Ewing, NJ

Twenty five years ago, our previous next door neighbors ripped out some beautiful landscaping to put in a pool, with a tall white slide.  The view from the windows in the back of my house turned from beautiful to objectionable overnight.  So my husband and I decided to plant Yellow Groove Bamboo to make a screen, using their rock retaining wall as a barrier on their side.  All these years we greatly enjoyed the strip of bamboo, which grew into a 10-15 ft. wide X 75 ft. long grove, which I controlled by kicking over new shoots in late May.  However, the roots were reaching out underground all this time, and last year my current side neighbors and myself became concerned about structures being affected.  I called a bamboo expert and discussed options, and decided that a full removal including some spread into neighboring yards would be the best way to proceed. This made me VERY, VERY SAD, as the 35+ft canes are so special and we still need the screening they provided.  Without the bamboo my deck looks at their carport and garbage cans, and big woodpile.  So I chose this location for my GEE.

Act of Beauty

Say more about your actions and activity

I’m not sure I created much beauty, but I see that nature will do most of it for me, like the way the moss took over without my help, and now that there is more light, I know it will be a different kind of beauty than it was with the bamboo. I need to stop being in a rush, too.  The moldy little stuffed bird waited for years to be discovered, and it will take some years for the new yard to become itself.  In the meantime, the trees seem happier, better aired, and their canopies won’t have to reach as high to get some sun.



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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.