Shortly after moving to our modest home in Olga, Florida I accidentally discovered a hidden “secret patio”, buried under six inches of leaf litter and dirt. A bit of hard work with my shovel and a long forgotten treasure was uncovered and developed into a wonderful place to relax.

I was raking the ground underneath our shady Banyan tree, thinking it would be a good lawn chair area. I was in a bored, “ho hum” mode of raking. Suddenly, the tines of my rake scraped concrete. I felt like an Archeologist who had just uncovered the “Missing Link”. The thrill of discovery filled me with a new sense of purpose and high level energy. I raked like a woman possessed until I had reached the outer edge of the hidden twelve by twelve patio. I stopped raking when I located the perimeter and excitedly ran to tell David of my discovery. It took hours to reveal the entire hidden treasure… David shared my joy and interjected “Keep digging. Maybe there is a swimming pool under there too.”

Elephant Ears

The creek that borders our property is filled with varied sizes of healthy, beautiful, naturally occurring Elephant Ears. My love for this plant probably stems from my mothers huge Elephant Ears. Hers occupied a prominent corner of our home.  As a child, I was in awe of their huge, verdant, green leaves. Their broad leaves towered above my head.

I enjoyed playing “make believe” games under their shady interior. I also feel a kindred spirit with their namesake, the Elephant – I have a compassion for the animal that fills my soul. As a focal point, I transplanted some of the wild Elephant Ears into a corner of my secret patio. They have grown magnificently into the same friendly giants I remember from my childhood.

A Blank Canvas

I continue to paint my canvas with varied colors, sizes and textures of plants. Each is given a special place to enhance it’s beauty and add to the masterpiece that is my intimate patio environment. Some were found on our property- carelessly placed by the previous dwellers; others were potted plants I brought with me. Still others come from cuttings I innocently snipped from public places. (I learned the little “freebie” plant trick from my sweet Mother.)

We continually gather cast off wood around our neighborhood and always have a fully stocked wood pile for the fire pit. Our grandchildren have joyously toasted many a marshmallow and roasted fat juicy hot dogs on a slender stick held just above the flames. It’s all for here to be enjoyed by family and friends alike. The patio garden continues to evolve. Relaxing in my “Secret Patio” truly is a ZEN experience… I hope one day you will come and sit by the fire.

The “Secret Patio” has become “ground zero” for many of our outdoor activities. In this photo David is preparing to brew a delicious cup of coffee using his Kelly Kettle and Aero-press coffee maker. It is the perfect location . Warm in winter and cool in summer…


Typical pile of free wood. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.

“On our frequent walks through our neighborhood Lucy and I often discover scrap wood or yard waste that is perfect for our cozy fire-pit” mentions husband David…

Wildlife Haven
I have enjoyed watching the harmless Black Racers that inhabit our yard. I like the fact that they eat rodents. Three sides of our property are vacant and grow wild. I cannot count the numerous times I have sat in my Secret Patio, just “being in the moment” and seen one of our resident snakes chasing a lizard across the yard. If I ran to tell David, I always scared them away. At other times, I have enjoyed observing them as they hunt.  I have seen several of them extend half of their bodies, a couple of feet in the air. They attempt to stand straight up to reach a low branch on our Macadamia nut tree, They sway gently, looking exactly like a slender weed in a breeze, until they stealthily complete their hunt.
Realizing I had let the patio turn into a bit of a shambles, I began to cleanup the overgrown weeds and organize the wood pile. David had just mowed the lawn; everything else was manicured except my “secret patio”.

As I approached, with tools in hand, to clear the weeds under the Banyan tree, I saw the tell-tale color of iridescent black indigo snake in the grass. Fearing discovery, the beautiful, iridescent snake, slid deeper into the weeds. I decided to abort my “Weed Removal” mission, “Keep the weeds and let nature be.”

A fondness for snakes had never been in my nature. I have killed several in the past. Somehow, I was charmed by the harmless, innocent, reptile. Should I destroy their habitat for my selfish need to preen and manicure? Who am I, but one of Gods creatures just as they are.

Most of my friends think I have gone a bit over the edge. What are your thoughts and experiences with snakes and the environment?

Happy Memorial Day and best wishes from “Spokes-model” Lucy