Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Very Own Zoo

Because our weather's been so nice, I've been spending hours every day sitting in the shade on our deck, writing and weaving and knitting. This is more deck time than I've done before, and it's made me very attuned to the wildlife in our yard.

We have finches and quail, of course, as always, and this time of year, we have quail chicks, who are very cute. We have doves. At one point we had quite a lot of pretty yellow butterflies, although I haven't seen any for a few days. We have rabbits: evidently there's a warren in one corner of our large and messy backyard, and last week I saw either three bunnies or one bunny three times. My gardener friends would consider this a catastrophe, but I don't garden and I love rabbits, and I'm happy that they love our messy yard.

On Sunday, a friend and former student -- a student from my very first semester at UNR, in fact -- stopped by with her little boy, who's fourteen months old and very cute. They were down for the weekend from Portland, where she and her husband live now, so I hadn't met the baby before. While the rest of us ate Gary's homemade scones and fruit salad, Will conducted experiments with gravity and grapes, and had a fine time.

At one point, his mother glanced up at the ugly power lines running along our yard and said, "Hey, look, a hawk." Sure enough, a red-tailed hawk was perched on the power pole, being harassed by a much smaller bird who did pendulum passes past the hawk.

"The hawk has a bunch of feathers in its mouth," said Pam, who has much better eyes than I do.

"I bet it ate a baby bird and the mother's trying to drive the hawk away from the nest," I said.

"Who knew that our backyard was a nature special?" said Gary.

Our yard is notably unlovely, dirt and weeds, although there are a few clumps of pretty flowering peavine. We're on a third of an acre, and a fair amount of that is a Sierra Pacific easement -- remember the power lines? -- so between the prohibitive cost of landscaping and the fact that the power company has the right to come in and tear up anything we put in, we've left it alone. The patches of weeds spread out every year, and I'm enjoying the process of watching the yard turn into a meadow. I suspect this is also why critters like our yard.

Before too long, though, most of the weeds will be gone. We're getting into fire season -- there have already been wildfires near here -- and every year when the weeds start to dry out, Gary tears them up to reduce the amount of flammable material and create a defensible zone around the house. (To our relief and pleasure, the current weeds don't seem to be cheatgrass, an invasive species that's extremely flammable, and that we battled for quite a few years.)

I'm grateful for Gary's hard work tearing up the weeds, but I'll miss our meadow, and I hope the bunnies will still like it here when the cover's gone.


  1. Yeah, I definitely miss the quail.

  2. Another student from my very first semester at UNR! It's old home week! Richard, how are you?


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