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Those Decorative Dandelions

A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

A weathered robot lies in a front yard on Beechwood Place.

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.

Last week, we reached for our wallets, revealing not just the tangible items they hold but the adventures and identities intertwined with each receipt, card, and forgotten breath mint. Did you find out what it means to be creative with your finances? Whether you found yourself crafting a credit card collage or pondering a day without making a single purchase, I hope the exploration offered a glimpse into the personal narratives we carry around on our hips. 

This week, we step outside to where personal expression meets public display: front yard art. Gone are the days of uniform suburban lawns; today's yards are canvases for individual creativity and expression. Xeriscapes, hardscapes, rock gardens, or waterwise – the trend goes by many names but it’s all inspiration for those of us seeking a few minutes of creative play in our run-around days. 

When I get my steps in around Canyon Crest, I see the managed landscapes of my neighbors as glimpses into the lives of their caretakers. When you walk around where you live, do the spaces seem designed to welcome or designed to keep you moving along? These creative spaces can be thought of as organic welcome mats. 

What’s growing where you live? Ready to find out? Then get out into the world, see what’s happening on the other side of your fence, and find a few yards with style. Then let those spaces inspire you to stake your claim on one of these creative nudges:

  1. Pencil it out: Sketch the places that catch your eye, noting materials, colors, and scale. This visual inventory can serve as inspiration for your own yard art project or a piece of reflective writing on the role of personal expression in public spaces.
  2. Stand in the place that you live: Spend a few minutes near a place with lots of sights and smells and sounds. I listen for bells and birds. Notice what relaxes you, what tenses you up. Experience a contemplative moment. Now face north
  3. Dig if you will a picture: Capture images of yard art that tell a story or convey a mood. Share your images with a short narrative or caption that explores the imagined or known backstory of the yard.
  4. Creative clips: Consider taking clippings of plants that inspire you, especially succulents or other easily propagated species. Research their care and try incorporating them into your own yard. Document the process and reflect on how nurturing plant life is good for your growth too.
  5. No Late Fees : Make a point to visit one or several Little Free Libraries in your area. Reflect on the role these mini libraries play in fostering community and creativity. 

Yards that aspire to be works of art offer a unique intersection of personal expression and communal experience. As we engage with these creative exercises, let's appreciate the beauty and diversity of expression that flourishes in our own front yards and those of our neighbors. Each display showcases the little pieces of flare that tell the world we exist. That we are, in fact, worth knowing.

It’s easy to see all the weeds and problem areas in my own front yard, which is why I suggest checking in on the neighbors every now and then. These creative nudges make space for some actual exercise while helping us branch out from where we are planted and into where we want to be. May this week's creative nudge inspire you to see not just the art in the yards around you but also the potential for creativity and connection in every outdoor space you encounter.

Note: This column written with the help of ChatGPT Plus and related Plugins.