Journalist Moses shares her joy in coexisting with the wild creatures around her.
After moving to suburban Oakland with her husband and cultivating a wildflower garden in her backyard that attracted birds and other wildlife, she began to appreciate the importance of urban stewardship. Drawn to the wilderness from an early age, the author explains how, where she once believed that “wild animals could be found only in a wilderness, now [she] finds wildlife everywhere: in the trees lining the sidewalks, in city parks and vacant lots…a shimmering living world of animals flourishing alongside humans.” Despite the incursions on wildlife as urban development expands, by turning small patches of ground on yards, decks, terraces and rooftops into habitats, “collectively, all of these spaces add up to tremendous amounts of land.” A key to this is the substitution of ornamental shrubs, flowers and manicured lawns with native plants that sustain an ecology of insects, worms, caterpillars, birds and small animals. Moses relates the couple's many adventures and mishaps with refreshing verve, beginning with a doomed plan to raise their own chickens (they provided dinner for raccoons that shared their space) and a vegetable garden that the deer munched on. They were reconciled to give up farming and happily coexist with the animals already in residence. Yet when Moses witnessed a hawk with a jay in its jaws, she confronted her own ambivalence about this threat to the harmony of her little universe; and she vigilantly restrained her her cat and dog. “When the conditions in my backyard can support the presence of the monarch butterfly, that is happiness,” she writes, but there is also the pain of accepting the reality of predator and prey, life and death.
A light, pleasing meditation on the joy of mindfully observing nature.