Lelia Elliston & Suzanne Hecker
Over Yonder

Story Info

Story & Experience

Suzanne and I decided to work on clearing the land of the invasive species and returning it to an open area. We did that this past early spring. It took five people four full days of slashing, clearing, chopping and burning—I felt like I was in Costa Rica doing biological research again! Almost overnight song birds returned, and we regularly see wildlife using the area for foraging and refuge. Just the other day we saw a doe with two baby fawn who had the “zoomies” and were running around back and forth across the open area, and having great fun!  They would not have been able to do that had we not reclaimed the open space. It will be a lot of work over many years to continue the steady and systematic control of the invasive species, for sure, especially with climate change. But it is worth it.

Why this Place?

Over Yonder

We have an area adjacent to our property that used to be pasture for the
Ferndale Dairy pre-1930s and is now conservation land that my grandmother gave to the Weston Forest and Trails Association. In the 70-80s it was a hay field. I remember as a child operating the hay rake with my grandfather, and with my grandmother mulching the peonies with the gathered hay. For the past decade it had been “let go” and not tended to at all.

“Over Yonder”, as we call it, had become completely overtaken by invasive non-native species such as bittersweet, porcelain vine, buckthorn and invasive blackberry. The area became impenetrable, was really a nursery for invasive species, and no longer a beneficial wildlife habitat for native birds and mammals.

Act of Beauty

Say more about your actions and activity

In Spirit and with mindfulness, Suzanne and I walked the land, gathering unusual inflorescences and found objects that spoke to us as we went along.  We created an offering for the continued healing of Over Yonder – – a Phoenix rising out of the ashes, literally the ashes from a burn pile of invasive species we removed in spring.  Seemed very fitting.
Thank you, Polly, for reminding us of this annual ritual, and thank you
Trebbe for Radical Joy.


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