My husband Fred is a Kodokan certified Judo black belt. Prior to Covid, he operated a small dojo in McKenna called Oak Tree Dojo. When Covid came along, with great reluctance, we shut it down. We're not sure he will ever open it up again, but we still own the little building on Highway 507.
With all the rain downpours we've had this spring, the backyard lawn and the grass in front of the building got away from us. Hip deep grass and weeds had taken over. And sad to say, if a building looks neglected, for some reason people feel free to add litter to the parking lot. Leaving it untidy is not kind to our neighbors. So yesterday we tackled it with a string mower and a lawn mower, rakes, shears and everything else we could haul down there. There's a very prickly quince bush at the front of the dojo along the fence, and I hadn't pruned it back in two years. So cutting it back and chopping down the grass around it fell to me.
But as I cut the grass and then pruned back the branches, I realized there was a nest under there. Under the low swooping quince branches and up against the chain link fence, there was a small secure hollow, invisible to the noisy traffic on the highway, and defended by the prickly quince branches. My tidying efforts had sprayed grass all over it and dropped quince cuttings on top of it. It had been recently occupied, and the dry bedding there showed that the quince had protected it from the downpours. Not where I would have chosen to make my bed, but someone had found shelter there.
I felt bad to have exposed it. What had been a secure hiding spot was now in view to anyone passing by. It would no longer be a safe space to den at night. I'd destroyed it. There was no way to repair it.
So I dragged out the sleeping bag and the rain jacket, and shook the grass cuttings off them. I binned the empty food containers. I placed the sleeping bag and jacket where I hoped the owner would see them and finished with my tidying.
The little dojo building is all spruced up now, and after we refresh the paint inside, Fred will have to decide what's next for it.