"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Tuesday 24 September 2019


My backyard is 63ft wide by50ft deep. I installed a pool when my children were young. It measures 32ft long by 16ft wide. A concrete deck ,probably 2ft wide surrounds the pool.I have a 12+ft square deck. What’s left has grass and perennials ,cedar hedging and spruce trees grown to substantial height.

 The subdivion was built on farmland. There was  no vegetation on the property other than on the banks of a creek that runs through. Case Woodlot is nearby and the Salamander Pond. Within two minutes of the front door, in whatever direction, we were in the country, surrounded by farm fields.
If homes disturbed the wildlife, it was long gone by the time we arrived.

It’s not like that any more. Subdivision housing surrounds us though Case Wood lot and the Salamander Pond remains. Fields still sweep upwards, mostly green, on the other side of Bathurst Street. It’s not unusual to see a hawk perched on hydro wires looking out over the fields for prey. I saw a Baltimore Oriole on Henderson Drive years ago. It flew in front of the car. Another time, a huge snowy owl swept  silently down past and disappeared into the darkness like an apparition.

On a different occasion, in the dusk, I caught sight of an animal on the road and thought it was a pretty tall hound dog . Then I realized ....it was a deer. Once I saw  a family of guinea hens crossing the road.I can’t explain the excitement I feel at the rare sight of the creatures that share our space.

Years have passed and we hear from new residents  there should be no more development in Aurora.Now they’re here and we should lock the door and throw away the key. We are destroying wild life habitat ,they tell us and  contributing to climate change.

In the meantime, all over town old lots are being acquired, modest homes demolished and massive mansions replace them. They cover half the lot as opposed to 25% .They tower over neighbouring bungalows. They are three  times the size any family needs...they consume three times the energy to maintain...Ceilings are two storys high in reception areas...staircases are majestic, bathrooms number at least  three and storage space for  possessions is more than for a small retail store. Heating, cooling, cleaning ,lot coverage ...everything about them consumes many times the energy needed for human habitat.

But...to get back to the intended theme of this post...wild life habitat. My lot ...one of 750 ...as described above, was originally farm land. No trees were removed. No wild life displaced. My small space provides shelter and sustenance to rabbits, racoons ,black , grey and red squirrels, skunks and chipmunks who come right up to my patio doors to peer in and spy upon me.

Cardinals have lived in my cedar hedge for two decades. Black cap chickadees, yellow finches, robins, blue jays and once a huge grey hawk in my maple tree with  ruffed feathers on his legs ,down that  looked like pyjamas. And woodpeckers, black and white with a red streak on their heads tapping on old bramches that have loost their bark. I never knew of the  variety  of sparrows until they came
to live in my garden.

I went to a party on Saturday night. One of the guests teaches horticulture to high school students in Halton Region. He told me David Suzuki has put out a paper that claims if everyone who has a
yard, no matter how small, planted a hospitable environment for wild life ,we could  bring back
species thought to be extinct for numbers of years.

I know it’s true. I’ve done it without planning  it. I have a pair of mallard ducks that land on my covered pool in the Spring. And singing frogs and croaking bull frogs and redwing blackbirds sometimes in the spring. Sometimes doves, in flight for days will come down to rest on the warm stones that define the flowerbeds from the grassy area.They travel in pairs,one will nestle to rest while the other stands watch.

I know things about the habits of birds and I have a veritable aviary in my own backyard. And I
just  stumbled into it

1 comment:

Elizabeth B said...

David Suzuki has made his career by flying in airplanes hither thither and yon and telling the rest of us what to do - and having five children. I think he's part of the problem and until he acknowledges that his own carbon footprint is much larger than average, he has no credibility. Paying his carbon taxes started late and didn't include all the costs of having his face on TV.

Glad to see you are posting on your blog again, Evelyn Buck. You give me good things to think about.