Wildlife and Inspiration

Inevitably, things happen.

You have learned that growing natives saves water, so you expect that. You expect that you probably won’t have to fertilize, or cultivate the plants, although you will have to do some mulching and weeding. But you don’t think about the context because you don’t have any standard for comparison.

Here’s what it is: A standard, exotic garden, in full form, is a stage set. A freshly mowed lawn, a perfect perennial border in bloom. But it is static. Dead. There is, literally, no movement.

By comparison, a native garden is alive. There are actors there: birds dip down and create nests, spiders make webs in the corners, bees buzz between flowers, ladybird beetles gather on stalks and eat quietly….

Read about the real bonuses of natives.
If you enjoy hiking in the wilderness, if you like watching a lizard do pushups or an opossum weave along a fence, or read about teenagers kissing in the grass and coming up for air to find a circle of deer around them, or even thrill to hear a story about a rattlesnake, this is the segment for you.

True stories about critters from hawks to coyotes, gophers to wasps and snakes, vividly told by the people who experienced them. And learn how you can do it yourself!

When you look at the big picture of what a native garden includes — as opposed to a typical exotic garden — it is wildlife. (Some of your favorites may not be included here. Dave Graber’s piece on bears, for example, and the birds and butterflies. They will be along in other segments.) These stories — ten by Louise Lacey and six more by other contributors — will warm your heart and sometimes make you laugh out loud. You will also go away with new perspectives.

This was taken from one of my stories, “Nightsounds”

….It was also Spring when I was catapulted from my chair one evening by a yowling and screaming below the back of the house. It was clearly feline; my own cat recognized that, too. He leapt into my arms with his hair on end and his ears back. We crept out onto the screen porch and listened. We couldn’t see anything, but it was clear these were not house cat sized animals. The furor went on for half an hour, accompanied by much thrashing and wailing and I was so transfixed I didn’t even think to get my tape recorder.

There’s a big hole opening into the basement in the back of the house that’s beyond my capabilities (or, more accurately, my willingness) to repair; another, smaller one, exists on the east side, leading into my fenced native shade garden. I could do something about that one, but it’s used by my cat’s timid girlfriend, and the deer haven’t found it, so I haven’t.

What was that racket all about? My first thought was that it was a bobcat toying with prey, but later I was advised by several people that it was the sound of big cats mating. The male has a barb on the end of his penis and it hurts her, someone told me.

Whatever, the screaming ended and then there was a bumping and growling sound against the back of the house, which then moved underneath all the way back until it settled down under where my reading chair sits near the front. Now I remembered to get the tape recorder, and I can play for you the interchange between the female, under my feet, and the male, who hovered by the big hole in the back, wanting to come in and join her. She kept him out with her growls, though he figuratively knocked on the door for at least an hour more….

I seldom tell anyone how to read anything, but in this case, I suggest you read them one at a time because these stories are meant to be separated by reality. Read another perhaps when you are ready to go to sleep, or if you are timid, try reading one at breakfast.

In addition to my own, these stories are by Don Mahoney about bees and wasps; by Peter Stoddard about ladybird beetles; by Phylis Rollins about opossums; about Eric York about coyotes; about Mike Mills about rattlesnakes; and by Chuck Baccus about gophers. You will remember them forever.