During my quest for social media content yesterday, I found myself searching for the term "staycation" within Google News. That's when I realized that my version of both staycations and vacations differs greatly from what's being promoted. Perhaps that's because my husband and I are not in the market for a marble-clad outdoor kitchen or an in-ground pool with accompanying cabana. We have never included Belize in our vacation rotation. Lying somewhere in the sun for hours while sipping $20.00 cocktails and receiving pedicures is not part of our fantasies or realities. I suspect we're not alone.
Our vacations look more like this...
...and I wouldn't have it any other way. What brings us peace and relaxation is a reprieve from our daily routines. I'm not referring to tasks pertaining to our basic needs. Obviously, camping provides no relief from that. I'm talking about the reduction of stressors and purging of mental clutter that can only take place when we allow it to. We don't have to leave home to find relaxation and peace, but that certainly makes it easier. The question I'm left with, is how do we create our own oases at home? What types of spaces wall out tensions and encompass peace of mind?
It's amazing what a view can do. When we go on our annual camping trips, we find ourselves struggling to find balance between capturing beauty on film and actually experiencing it. We've learned, when we take too many pictures, we take away from those moments. Some of them require us to really zoom in and focus for just a bit on one, perfect little thing or vignette. The tiny bits of complete perfection that are right before our eyes induce a meditative state, forcing us to ignore everything but our awe. I think that's why people really embrace the Fairy Gardening trend. The minute fantasy worlds that can be achieved with finely textured succulents and adorable resin statues can actually transport us to a more carefree world. We have the ability to build our own diminutive utopias!
Of course, views from afar are also impactful. They are just harder to influence. Staring off into the distance at a soothing abyss of woods and waters is extremely peaceful. While that might not be what we see when we look out our living room windows, we can still bring the beauty closer to us. Planting a majestic Oak in a prominent place is one way of doing that. Building a soothing backdrop of evergreens along a lot line or converting a portion of yard into wildflower meadow can completely change both view and state of mind. When we gaze at the natural beauty that surrounds us in state parks and forest preserves, we don't bemoan the lack of organization or the absence of rows. We embrace the perfection that lies within imperfection. That's something we can try to emulate in our own spaces as well. While we have to organize our desks and clean our rooms, we can throw a little bit of blissful chaos into our garden designs and truly embrace it.
While I contemplate backyard retreats, I also think about the activities we engage in on our vacations. Barry and I love to kayak and hike. We're lucky to live on a lake and near a trail, so that helps with our staycation goals. We also love to observe wildlife on our soirees. Knowing that and being somewhat of an ecological hobbyist, I keep planting more pollinator candy and bird food. That really makes a huge difference during the winter months. Our backyard environment provides food and shelter for a variety of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects. Their presence sooths us and makes us feel connected to the magnificence of nature. I've certified our yard as habitat with the National Wildlife Federation and we're also on the Monarch Joint Venture Map. I'm really proud of those accomplishments and that pride brings me peace.
While we also love to cook and daydream about those outdoor kitchens, we have focused on growing some of our own foods and the herbs to season them with. Grapes, cherries, apples and currants on our property are often transformed into wines and ciders. Wood that we prune out of our trees tends to end up infusing delicious smokiness into meats. We simply roll our trusty Weber to whatever area of the yard we feel like staring at, jab a couple of Avon drink holder stakes in the ground and do our thing. Our cocktails may not have umbrellas, but they are often derived from the oasis that we have created and that makes them taste really, really good.
My name is Connie Kratzke. I have worked with Kahnke Brothers for 16 years. During this period, I have done everything from watering the plants to designing our website. My role at the nursery involves selling stock, managing inventory, marketing plants and overseeing the production of shrubs and perennials. Sometimes I sit at a desk and other times I can be found in a Bobcat. During my career here, I have become a MNLA Certified Professional. I am also an at large member of the Minnesota Grown Promotion Group/Minnesota Grown Advisory Committee. Currently, I serve as City Arborist for Silver Lake, Minnesota, and a member of their planning commission. My focus is on helping our clients succeed with their landscaping efforts. Education is a huge factor influencing that success. Keeping it real is my strategy. Through sharing my experiences at the nursery and at home, I hope to debunk myths and eliminate concerns. At the same time, I want people to be aware of what doesn't work. Living things are somewhat unpredictable, but they all have basic needs. Understanding how to fill those needs while simultaneously achieving landscape goals is a process that I want to share with as many people as possible, because I truly enjoy it.