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  • If I only water my front yard, my back yard will die. That's the kind of climate we live in. It has its lovely days, but overall, it is brutal.

    And if I only give water to the plants that others will see as they drive or walk by my home, it does nothing for those living things struggling out back.

    I tell myself and my husband tells himself and our kids tell themselves that we've got a beautiful yard and that everything is healthy and vibrant. We say it over and over to each other, and no one questions the veracity other. We've got a beautiful yard and everything is healthy and vibrant. We say it: Everything is healthy. Again: Vibrant. And once more: Beautiful.

    We construct our lives and build our days in ways that never require that we look over the back fence. We just stop opening the back door. We water the front. We close the blinds. Healthy and vibrant. We water the front.

    The slow dying and drying up and blowing away is almost silent.

    Our neighbors marvel at the deep shade of green that carpets the space between where our house ends and the street begins. "Like a painting," one says. "Yes," we all say in repsonse. "We have a beautiful yard and everything is healthy and vibrant."

    Then one Tuesday, the wind picks up. The temperature rapidly drops. The thunder booms loudly and often. And a simple lightning strike sets the parched, brittle and forgotten yard behind the house aflame. The gales whip the fire into a destructive frenzy that not even the subsequent sheets of rain can quell.

    Everything is consumed and blackend to ashes. Nothing is left for us but the heavy smell of smoke as, together, we blame it all on the lightning.
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