Wildlife & Weeds

Posted by Elise Muller on

I am of an age where I understand the importance of reflecting on my life - the times I've been blessed, the times I've been protected from oblivious choices and actions.  As I grow older and (hopefully) gain wisdom, I'm awed by the amount of times that I've been protected and times I've been blessed with the people and places that have shaped me.  Although I could write volumnes on these encounters, for now I speak of this wildness, the land that has encouraged me to become quiet, to observe. It's been a gift to live alongside meadows, woodlands, mountain streams and the wildlife these habitats sustain.  Although my years surrounded by this beauty have brought isolation, they have also provided a deeper understanding of our natural world. Recently, a wild meadow, a "blue moon", an Owl, and migrating Finch helped to heighten my awarness of the cycles of wildness.  Here is their story ... The meadow fronting my home is one I've encouraged to grow wild and reclaim its authentic abundance (I was curious to observe what plants would come up and what wildlife it would feed and shelter) ... its wildness has brought pleasure to me and to the wildlife it sustains.    Recently, due to herbs, flowers and grasses gone to seed the meadow was looking "a tad ratty" and I contemplated mowing it down / cleaning things up a bit.  (I considered this only because my land is for sale and folks coming from the city may not understand wildness).  After weighing my options I couldn’t mow.  Blessings to be sure. Within 24 hours of deciding "not to mow" Wild Finch and Hummingbirds arrived to feast on Thistle and other plants that had gone to seed.  Their timing, as always, impeccable.  Birds arrive early mornings and again at twilight to dine and sing - it is now well past 10:00 p.m. and the meadow and surrounding woodlands continue to be filled with their song.  Hearing this, I often wonder "if we don't provide habitats, where will they go, how will they feed, and who will hear their song"?  (I also wonder how wildlife knows within 24 hours when Thistle blooms)?  I believe nature speaks in ways we are yet to hear. Recently the temperature dropped and soon after came the "blue moon".  The following day the Finch were gone.  Long gone.  They came in the season of "gone to seed" and left on cooler winds.  I miss their company and their "call and response" notifying other wildlife of my garden's bounty.   I hope as they leave my garden they will find other gardens to sustain them along their flight path, filling others with the beauty of song. Why do I write this article?  To share what I witness and know to be true.  I write with the hope of encouraging others to "uncultivate" sections of their lawn and allow it to grow wild and free.  The common grounds in our towns and cities that have been manicured or cemented over silence the beauty of nature.  Whether we live in cities, suburbs or country, we're on a flight path and wildlife depends on our thoughtfulness to survive.  Although it may take a turn of season for wildlife to find your refuge, they will find it and fill your heart with song because you have filled their heart with song. I believe the songs of wildlife is their gift to us - they are singing their heart to us and if we sing our heart to them, the beauty that goes 'round fills all life with grace.  (If you doubt this, next time you hear a bird's song, sing one back and see what happens).  I've been doing this each evening with an Owl and although I can't speak for the Owl, when I sing back I'm all smiles.  This evening I heard him sing and I didn't sing back (I was with family members and they already think I'm bonkers) and after two short calls the Owl stopped (normally we go back an forth for quite some time).  I realized how much I missed sharing our song and I imagined that he too missed our song and wondered where I was.  When we give, we receive ... Here's an example of "call of the wild" that I witnessed in a city, long ago. (I mention this to assertain that wildlife exists, even in urban, developed lands).  For most of my adult life I lived in Miami Beach.  I lived there at a time when I could meander and pick Limes, Lemons, Oranges, Mangoes and relish in what was truely an authentic Tropical environment.  During this time, at the end of Ocean Drive there was a parcel that went back and forth between "land holders", one of whom was a friend.  He was proud of his holdings and we spoke one day and I said "do you know what is unique about your parcel"?  He puffed up (thinking I was going to compliment his business saavy) but I said "it's the only place on Miami Beach where you can hear crickets".  He was deflated ... I didn't want his "holdings" to silence wildlife's song.  Obviously, wildlife was outed and the crickets and their song are gone, replaced by a hotel catering to International tourists.  At this same time I knew another "land holder" who arrived while Miami Beach was a sleepy beach town, laden with wildlife, tropical fruits and elders from vast cultures - now replaced, making room for investors with visions of cement and profits.  Sadly, their visions held no room for song and destroyed the integrity of place. As one who enjoys to travel, I believe people want to witness the essence of place, what gives a locale its uniqueness and its soul.  If we remove its wildlife, elders, culture and its unique rhythms and replace these with cement, what is left of its soul?  Cement does not sing nor understand when the winds shift. Although I have witnessed passing of time, I believe change and development are necessary - but none more-so than the soul of our environments.  The natural world reflects the essence of our environments; without this, there is no song.
"The music of nature is everywhere if your ears know how to listen, but if you do not believe there is music, you will not hear it". Gregory Colbert
Helpful links for creating gardens & habitats http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife/Create-a-Habitat.aspx http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/create-backyard-wildlife-habitat.htm http://www.yougrowgirl.com/2001/05/30/lawns-to-gardens-convert/ http://www.locally-delicious.org/Locally-Delicious/lawns-to-gardens.html Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan / Gardener Mountain Spirit Botanicals

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