Showing posts from June, 2008

What Does Your Garden Mean to You?

The things that appear in our garden have meaning to us, for example that statue of Kwan Yin, goddess of compassion. Kwan Yin has held a place in my life since my teen years. I always liked the ideal of compassion, something we all could use in greater measure. Since I have a special sense of compassion for animals, it seemed fitting to put her where they could visit. Kwan Yin was not easy to come by. Few statues of this scale and style are available. In some, the quality of workmanship is so poor that Kwan Yin looks ugly, or scary. This Kwan Yin was perfect for me, but I couldn’t afford her. As we left the shop empty-handed, I said to Dan, “If she’s still here when we come back next year, I’ll know that I’m meant to have her.” Through 365 days of rain, and snow, and dead of night, Kwan Yin waited --- just for me. And I kept my promise by taking her home. She occupies a place of prominence in the garden, where she can be seen from every room on that side of the house. While I made t

Trash Can Enclosure

For those of us who are not blessed with a garage in which to store our refuse until “garbage day,” there is the problem of how to hide, or disguise, these unattractive, utilitarian objects for the other six days of the week. Whether you call them trash cans, garbage cans, or dust bins, it’s not as if they can be placed in the center of the lawn with a flower pot on top and be made into a focal point. Recently, I saw this simple, inexpensive, and elegant solution: The trash can enclosure is built in as a seamless extension of the fence. Stockade fencing runs the length of the common property line. A simple bumpout of shorter fencing (either purchased or trimmed down from the perimeter fence) is equipped with a latch and two hinges. Matching sides, barely deeper than the cans themselves, are fixed to two uprights already in place for the perimeter fence. The trash cans are placed on a bed of gravel, which if underlain by landscape cloth, will keep weeds at a minimum. Many times I’ve

de Vries Honored with National Award

Yes, that’s me at a recent ceremony hosted at the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts in Newark, where I was awarded the prestigious Jefferson Medallion for Public Service for my work advancing local environmental causes. On my left is Sam Beard, co-founder of the Jefferson Awards and President and CEO of the American Institute for Public Service, and on my right is Ed Selover Executive Vice-president and General Counsel, Public Service Electric and Gas Company, who presented for the environmental category. Most of our residents don’t realize that Andover Township’s geology has created a number of habitats within our town that are unique on the planet. Keeping those safe in the face of impending development and lack of understanding has been an uphill climb. My fellow environmental commissioners have offered unflagging support during my seven years in municipal government service and some township committee officials have had the foresight to understand the importance of eva