Nature Comes to Us

I’ve been thinking a lot about nature and the nature spirits lately.

A male house finch lives very near my apartment. He sits on the rail of our balcony and sings his heart out for long stretches of the day. He’s a tiny fellow, with a cheerful red breast and bright eyes, and he fills my home with music, for which I am grateful.

Today he brought his lady-friend to our porch, where she hopped around investigating all of my plants. I think she was looking for something to eat, but sadly I had nothing to offer today… Next time they visit, hopefully I will. I would like to encourage their residence at my apartment and see if I can persuade one of them to build a nest here next spring. In spite of my efforts to find it, I’m not sure where their current nest is, but I hope it’s safely away from the highway.

There’s a lot of discussion about “urban druidry” out there, a lot of concern about practicing nature awareness when you live in an urban environment, but I’m beginning to see how unfounded so many of those fears are. It’s easy enough to turn your apartment’s outdoor space into a bower, even if it is a little balcony overlooking a highway like mine. Simply by virtue of four plants on my balcony, it’s already the chosen haven of some neighborhood birds.

It’s a matter of observation, too. If you look you will find. On a recent run, I spotted an indigo bunting flying in the trees, like a tiny rogue speck of sky darting from limb to limb. A baby rabbit fled my steps on a path. A butterfly lit on my shoulder.

I’m lucky to have a forest so near my home… but then, we’re all lucky to have nature in our lives, no matter how small a piece it is. Respect your potted herbs, treasure the trees lining the streets near your home. As we offer life to them, they offer life to us.

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2 thoughts on “Nature Comes to Us

  1. I completely agree. Like you, I feel lucky to live near a forest, but when I lived in a more urban setting, I was able to find nature all around me. I grew up in a rural area, so when I spent time in a city, I yearned for nature and reveled in what I did find – flowers pushing through sidewalk cracks, squirrels racing across electrical wires, acorns on a neighbor’s lawn, the rare glimpse of a fox at night… It *is* hard to feel the same peace in a city as I do in a forest, and urban nature spirits have a different feel about them. That said, they are there and should be acknowledged and worked with! To urbanites struggling with connecting to nature I say – start a garden! Even if it’s only in one pot.

  2. I live in the “old” part of my city, only a few blocks from the ocean. No forests, and parks tend to be flat expanses of occasionally tended grass with maybe a playscape on them and a lone picnic table crouching under a metal cover.

    Even so, there is a lot of wildlife in my neighborhood. Possums and skunks and lizards and snakes; a great variety of birds, feral cats, mice. We added a bird feeder and a few plants, and a bird bath and got an explosion of visitors. The clean water source is a big draw. In our city, it’s pretty easy for animals to find food, but clean water is another matter.

    Also: http://urbancoyoteresearch.com/

    I enjoy living in the city. I like going out of town to camp and enjoying the quiet and the “back to nature” feel, but life day to day here fascinates me.

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