People have often marveled at how peaceful and attractive our property is. It’s all a product of trying to be mindful of our natural surroundings.
One of the first things that we did when we found the property was to walk just about every inch of it.
We noted every tree and drove our builder crazy with all of the ribbons around trees and vegetation. There was so much that we didn’t want cleared or touched to build our home. Native islands of vegetation and stands of hardwoods and pines were preserved where ever possible. After all, it was the beauty of land that attracted us in the first place.
We wanted our home to be a refuge and reminder of all the things that we held dear in this natural world. Over the years it has proved to have been a wise decision.
As our community has grown we have sadly witnessed the disappearance of much of the natural beauty around us. The forest has been indiscriminately cut away to remove the ‘nuisance’ pines. Natural vegetation and shrubs have been bull-dozed and replaced with asphalt and manicured lawns. As a result, much of the wildlife that we first used to enjoy here has also become scarce.
First to go were the eagles. Houses built too close to their roosting trees scared the off. Habitat destruction forced out the foxes. Plant succession of the natural scrub habitat also edged out species such as the towhees and quail. Then we noticed the absence of bats, fireflies, and the songs of whip-poor-wills, nighthawks, and owls. Even the evening chorus of frogs fell silent.
It was a thrill to see a hawk, osprey, or eagle flying overhead. Some songbirds seemed to be diminished for a time. These events were depressing. But then we were reminded by the cycles and patterns of nature that despite what we see in the immediate, life does go on.
Keeping the birdfeeder in the backyard helps us to remember that. With each season various birds come and go. There are particular residents who stay throughout the year; the blue jays, mocking birds, cardinals, red-bellied woodpeckers. And of course there are the squirrels. Each of these creatures is a living reminder to us.
The very shrubs and trees preserved around us also remind us. They speak to us of hope and a continuation of life. This winter, for the first time robins appeared. With the warmth of spring we are starting to hear some frogs at night again.
The arrival of sand hill cranes and frequency of eagles back in our area have also brought us encouragement. The photo is one that I took from my window of one of the eagles.
It sits up there high in the pine tree looking out over all. From its perspective up there everything must look so much more varied and interesting. Perhaps I am getting that same experience from up here looking out my window?