It's Not Provence
    Hyattsville, it has to be said, is not Provence. It boasts an
excellent brewpub, Franklin’s Restaurant and General Store, but not
a single vineyard. There’s a Farmer’s Market on Tuesday afternoons
in the summer, but that’s as close as we get to fresh local produce
(other than the huge, orange fungus I found growing under my oak
tree), and they don’t sell truffles. Nonetheless, after I’d spent a few
years watching the flowers and birds return to my yard, I decided it
warranted a year of steady observation. I wanted to see if I could
learn what nature intends to make of my untended yard.
    One thing I discovered was that, like the ancient forest that
once flourished here,  my yard had become a home for wildlife.
Eight species of birds, including cardinals and red-bellied
woodpeckers, reared their young in the yard that year, along with
squirrels and butterflies and spiders and crustaceans. Without really
knowing it or trying, I had provided the four requirements for
wildlife: water, which came by way of a birdbath; food, supplied by
the trees and plants and the insects they attract; cover, in the form
of shrubs; and places to raise their young, again provided by
shrubs and trees, as well as a nesting box or two.
    Later I learned that the
National Wildlife Federation will give you
a certificate for doing what I had (or hadn’t) done. It was the
easiest way of doing good I’d ever found, so much less
demanding—and cheaper—than mowing and raking and fertilizing
and watering. I don’t have to wait for my reward in heaven either.
It's just outside my back door, right here in Hyattsville.

Copyright 2008 by M.A. Sheehan. All rights reserved.
A Year in the Yard