“Leave the edges wild.”
I read those words someplace recently. They aligned absolutely with my heart and soul. I believe they came from the lyrics of a song. They do sing in my thoughts. “Leave the edges wild.”
Perhaps it is because I have been working in my yard so much lately, but “leave the edges wild” certainly seems to apply to my gardening philosophy. It lets the wild things just be – all vines and moss and dragonflies, bird nests and grasshoppers, worms and clover and roly-poly bugs. It’s mother nature with torn pockets and messy hair.
It’s also a rather nice personal philosophy: leave the edges of ourselves wild. After all, that’s where all the most interesting bits of us live, too – not unlike the garden.
And then, out of nowhere, the words brought back images of my high school sewing class. Specifically, the class where we learned how to make French seams. This is when the seams of a garment are sewn first right-side out, then turned in on themselves and sewn with the outside in. It results in a seam with no exposed raw edges. It’s all smooth and tight and secure – and quite the oposite of leaving the edges wild. But, from there, I wandered along my memories to other more basic skills that we have to be taught in school or by family to successfully navigate life: like cooking (although this one still confounds me), cleaning, sewing on a button, jumpstarting a car, balancing a checkbook, changing a diaper, changing a tire, counting change, growing vegetables, settling arguments peaceably.
But the words “leave the edges wild” kept tapping me on the head and whispering to me to listen to the deeper possibilities, to consider the significant and authentic message about things we need to learn, about skills we need to have and know and practice – but that aren’t often taught to us, and yet are perhaps more important than all the others. They spoke to me about needing the personal skills for taking care of the world beyond ourselves – beyond our personal edges – reaching into the wild – into our larger shared home. Even just simple, ordinary, nature-centered knowledge: like how to plant a tree. Or how to help an injured bird. How to lift a baby bat back into flight. How to save a spider from drowning in a bathtub. How to relocate a snake from inside the house to a safe place outside at 3:00 a.m., or how to relocate opossums from among the extra lightbulbs in your closet to a safe outside space as well. How to read horses and talk to trees and listen to foxes. How to serve water to bees and butterflies. How to catch rain. How to walk softly on the earth and be silent in it. How to leave – and keep – the edges wild.
Over the past several months and years, I have been needed in all of the above natural-world situations. But I have never needed to sew another French seam. And I suspect that without all of us having just the basic skills of how to respect and care for our earth home and those who share it with us – even if it’s just one creature, one flower, one stone, one small wild thing at a time – none of our other life skills will matter very much, or for much longer.
Leave the edges wild.