I love the outdoors. It hates me.

I love the outdoors. Unfortunately, the outdoors does not love me back.

Since moving to Colorado, I’ve developed several allergies, mostly to things outside. It wasn’t until after we bought a house with mature maple trees that I learned I was allergic to them. It became apparent when I raked leaves and sneezed nonstop for three days.

My mother kept a beautiful flower garden, so I decided to follow suit. I pulled weeds only to develop hives every place a leaf touched my skin. The same happened when I mowed the grass and dumped the clippings in a trash bag. I would go back into the house with swollen hands and red, itchy welts. Every attempt to work in the yard or beautify the outside of my house was met with sneezing, unstoppable itching, and a need to shower all that crud off me. Bummer!

After tests revealed these and several other allergies, my husband assured me he would do all the yard work and weeding. He followed through until he injured his back and couldn’t bend over or push the lawnmower, about two weeks later. So, back to pain and misery.

My "weedless" back yard
My “weedless” back yard

Not that it isn’t fun to go out fully covered head-to-toe with long sleeves, long pants, and gloves in 96-degree heat. And a hat to protect my sunburn-susceptible face. Needless to say, I did not enjoy those summer months. But I continued my work outside out of necessity.

Eventually, I got rid of the grass in the back yard, replacing it with two patios, decorative rocks, and strategically-placed flowers and trees. It looked beautiful and only required minimal weeding and spraying, something I could do in the morning, before the heat of the day chased me inside.

When the hot afternoon sun tormented my unshaded backyard, it became unusable. If I didn’t sit on the patio before lunch, there was no lounging there until the next day. It seemed my patios were a wasted effort on my part. Did I tell you I built them myself, brick by brick? Yes, I did, one patio for the table and grill, another for Adirondack chairs.

Yes, I built these patios, one brick at a time! And I had to leave them behind.
Yes, I built these patios, one brick at a time!

Well, the day arrived when I said goodbye to the home Bryan and I had built and where he took his last breath. Hard as it was, I finally let go of “our” house and buy “my own” home. Relocating was tough, but easier than I expected. I moved closer to my granddaughters, so I had already decided it would be a good change, which helped temper my sorrow.

Not only did I leave behind the house and its memories, but I also left a yard beckoning to me every day:

“Debbie, come weed me.”

“These plants are overtaking the lilies.”

“If you don’t pull the weeds, at least spray them.”

“Don’t wait until tomorrow. There’ll be more then.”

I hated those voices.

My new townhouse is surrounded by trees (no maples), grass I don’t have to mow, and bushes someone gets paid to trim. It’s my little slice of heaven on earth.

My outdoor slice of heaven
My outdoor slice of heaven

Sitting on my deck one evening, I enjoyed the quiet of my neighborhood and the ability to be outside. From my perch on the glider, I could see the sky above my roof. Normally, that would be enough – watching daylight slowly ebb away.

However, as I sat thanking God for my new surroundings and my new beginning, I noticed something floating between my chimney and my neighbor’s: Dragonflies. There was one, then two – four – until I couldn’t keep count. They didn’t come down to where I sat, but danced on the high wire for my amusement. And I loved my outdoor show.

Thank you, God, for the peace you brought to me. No – you brought ME to PEACE. You knew I needed this time of refreshing and moving on. Help me never to forget that, although letting go is hard, what you have in store for me is oh-so-much better.

I can hardly wait to see what else God has planned. How about you?