Friday, February 1, 2013

Communing with a Towhee

...and celebrating the lack of chemicals

Shortly after we first bought our house many years ago, a lawn care specialist came by (unsolicited) and gave us an assessment of our front yard. He pointed out the mixture of grasses along with a number of weeds that grew there. He offered, for a fee,  to spray the lawn with fertilizer to enhance the grass and chemicals to eliminate the weeds. My philosophy then and now was that if it is green and can be mowed, you have a perfectly fine lawn.  That philosophy also fit in with my very small checking account, so I politely declined the young man’s offer.

Yesterday I had the day off and decided to sit on the front porch to enjoy the sunny 50-degree weather outside (unusual for the end of January). There were sparrows, finches and chickadees at the feeder, with a mourning dove and a grey squirrel scrounging for sunflower seeds that had dropped to the ground.  After a few minutes a towhee casually made its way along the ground, not 12 feet from where I sat, searching and sifting among the clover and dandelions. It was at that moment as I watched the russet-breasted towhee wandering amidst the varied growth in the yard that I was reminded of one big reason why I don’t want to pour chemicals on the lawn.  There is a world of wildlife – even here in the city – that should have a chemical free place to live. The joys that come from those encounters with our furry and feathered friends help me to celebrate the lack of chemicals on the lawn.

I could go on to lament the fact that so many of those chemicals which enhance our lawns end up as toxins in the groundwater, but the foraging towhee stands out as reason enough to let things be.  

(Photos of the Eastern Towhee are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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