I love my yard. When I first bought my fixer house on a fixer third acre, the yard was full of rocks and rose bushes. Now it has trees, plants, roses, wisteria, a privet hedge, flag stone, one fountain and two bird baths.
The fountain is an advertisement to creatures near and far to come into my fenced yard. I have birds of every size and color coming to the fountain to drink and bathe — hummingbirds, finches, robins, even crows. I am sure I also have cats, raccoons, and a few rodents, as well. I know this because I have to constantly add water to my fountain, unless it’s raining, like today.
I stopped using pesticides a few years ago. I took out the grass to get a rebate from my water company, put in native plants instead, and started a composting bin. I planted 20 trees and left the rose buses alone. They are 45 years old and huge. So no, my yard is not truly native. It’s eclectic, with three birch trees that survived the drought and one that didn’t survive the gophers.
My yard borders a park, so yes, I have a feral cat and a skunk. They live in the big hedge out front. I met the skunk one dry winter day when I watered my geranium bed, where he was hiding. The thing waddled quickly down the side of my house, across my front porch, along the front of my house, and disappeared into a hole in the fence to the backyard. While I stood there thinking, “That is no rat! It has a stripe!”
I don’t mind Pepe Le Pew. He hasn’t skunked me or the dogs yet, and he does need a place to live in my suburban neighborhood. The feral cat keeps down the rats that used to live under my shed. The lizards live out front and run in front of me on hot days when I walk down the flagstone path to my car,
The hummingbirds come to my native plants to feed. Butterflies come, too. When I had my yard sprayed quarterly for ants, I didn’t have the pretty animals, either. Now the ants go to the compost bin to help decompose the plant garbage and turn it into rich soil.
My worker woman turned the compost pile for me with a pitchfork one day and came in complaining, “Someone put dirt in there!”
I had to explain to her what a composter does — it makes the stuff.
The home health care ladies were scraping my sister’s leftovers into the composter bowl. Rather than explain to each of them that the compost bowl only gets fruit and veggie scraps, paper, tea bags, and coffee grounds, now I cover it up with the dog dishes so they will scrape no more.
It feels good to recycle most everything, to compost, and to put only a tiny bag of garbage out each week for the landfill. It feels good to have birds and butterflies in my yard. I like the sound of the fountain. I like the look of the trees filled with birds and the maturing hodge-podge of a garden.
This is my little paradise in a corner of my town. Why would anyone want to give that up for a retirement community with no yards or gardens and everything uniform? I watch my friends making the move. I might get there someday, but I’m not there yet.
Mr. Skunk, for now, you are safe.