The State of My Backyard

The regular Friday blog took a week off for meanderings in the Oregon outback. This week we return with Virginia based visual artist and writer Betty Plevney musing on her backyard through prose, sketching and haiku.


I moved to Richmond, Virginia, four years ago. It was an economically wise but sad decision as I uprooted my wife from the only place she had ever called home, the San Francisco Bay area, and we left our close friends behind. Slowly, over time, we made this little spot of land, just south of the James River, into a beautiful outdoor room.

Our Place

A lot of living happens in this backyard that has nothing to do with Lee and me. Squirrels race along the fence tops. Starlings root in the grass for worms. Mosquitoes search for ankles, legs and arms. The oak tree sheds its catkins, littering the lawn and deck. Grass gracefully accepts another load from the Boston Terriers and keeps growing. Each year, these scenes unfold as days lengthen, humidity rises and the sun warms the land. I just need to stop long enough to observe.

The State of My Backyard

Spring cleaning the yard,
wind laughs and spits crepe myrtle
seeds across the sand

Crepe myrtle casts shade,
terriers wait silently,
a baby bird falls

Ants hurry, laying
down a line of red footprints,
spring’s first barbecue

The State of My “Backyard”

Old rusty fish hooks,
tangled monofilament,
new barbs snag my fears

Sweat beads in my eyes,
wet hands pull spinning clay up,
dreams collapse again

Black snake winds down the
middle of my road asking
for new ideas

Betty Plevney is a writer, mixed-media artist and graphic facilitator living in Richmond, Virginia. She explores transparency, layering and the juxtaposition of words, ideas, color and texture in her work. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Masters in Writing. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BettyPlevney.

12 Replies to “The State of My Backyard”

  1. Aunt Betty this is amazing!! I truly felt like I was in your backyard… With the drawing and descriptions!! Thank you!

  2. Neat, especially since Jewel and I spend quite a bit of time in your backyard. I especially liked The State of My “Backyard.” Thanks for sharing.

  3. You never cease to amaze me. Your talent as a writer and poet is astounding. Thanks for inspiring me in so many ways, not the least of which is to tap the writer within.

    1. Hey, Lou, that black snake gets around. I betcha it’s heading up your road right now with some new ideas.

  4. Betty,

    I love having the visual to put with your words. The way you engage with this space is moving and a testament to what kinds of beauty can emerge from this practice. Thank you!!

  5. Katrina, Thank you for inspiring me with your deep thinking and connection to the land and your new exploration of your ancestors’ lands. May the spirit animals guide you in your journey.

  6. Love this, Betty. Thanks for sharing it. The weave of art, writing and poetry is cool. Would enjoy a conversation on how the arts can deepen dialogue. I’ve been in that one for a while now. Lovely.

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