Isn’t it amazing how quickly things can descend into chaos? Just a few weeks away on holiday was all it took! Now it has become quite a challenge to revert my home and garden back to some semblance of their former selves. It is particularly the natural world which can so quickly take over if we aren’t careful. But our own natural tendencies to let things slide during holidays also play a role.
Living in a sub-tropical climate, Durban is blessed with an abundant insect life along with the geckos (small lizards) that eat them. Most Durban homes host a family of geckos that feast on insects at night. We returned from our holiday to an invasion of leaf beetles that the geckos just haven’t been able to keep up with. Our patio furniture was covered in leaf beetles! They also found their way indoors, attracted by the light in our dining room. The geckos in turn had been busy inside making quite a mess on the floor and walls. Ants came indoors leaving little piles of sand-like waste along skirtings and door lintels. Spiders also quickly found a home in corners. Likewise, in the garden creepers spread in all directions, the grass grew wild and plant pots were overflowing with greenery.
Sometimes I imagine what the urban world would look like after a period of time, if we just left our homes one day and never returned. We got a sense of this in the old diamond mining town of Kolmanskoppe in Namibia where the sand has seeped through windows and doors, reclaiming the desert. An artist, Christenberry, over several years tracked how vegetation took over an abandoned house in Alabama, USA. Fascinating to see the structure disappear into the green. See https://blog.art21.org/2009/12/21/when-nature-takes-over/
At the end of the day, there will always be the challenge of maintaining our homes and gardens in some semblance of order against the invasions of nature and the impact of weather, as well as our own inclinations towards disorder.
One key lesson that I have learnt over the years is that dealing with the small things on a regular basis is the easiest and less stressful way to manage our home environments. A daily tidy up in the house, regular gardening and cleaning, and attacking those maintenance jobs as they happen keeps everything under control and manageable. It is as soon as we leave things for longer periods that the jobs get bigger, we get overwhelmed and home maintenance becomes more difficult, time-consuming and costly.