The Rewards of Laziness
It began as laziness, though maybe that gives me too little
credit. It wasn't just that I couldn't be bothered to go out back with
my lawn mower or my rake. It was, rather, that I was always more
interested in watching my yard than working in it. If the grass was
getting a little high, if the leaves were piling up, there were also
squirrels teaching their young to run along the branches of the
oaks, and tulip poplar leaves pushing out of their buds neatly
folded in half, and the tiny pink flowers of smartweed staking their
claim to this corner of the earth.
Such laziness has its rewards, I soon discovered. Nature quickly
begins to reclaim land that has been disturbed and then
abandoned, whether by human interventions like logging or
growing a lawn, or by natural events like fire or flood. My yard is in
the early stages of this process of ecological succession. At the
beginning of succession, annuals that grow and reproduce quickly
are the first plants to sprout. Smartweed, a common “pioneer”
species, was the first wildflower I found in my yard. I had often seen
it on the edges of trails through the woods. One day I discovered it
blooming all across a wide rocky streambed strewn with downed
trees left there by floodwaters during a hurricane. Now here it was
blooming in my backyard. I couldn’t very well mow it down.
Copyright 2008 by M.A. Sheehan. All rights reserved.
A Year in the Yard