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  • Writer's pictureJ. Darris Mitchell

Tear up your Lawn

ON Desk

The revision process has begun on the Crane and the Wolf! So far, my critique group has been extremely into THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF but with a WEREWOLF WHO MUST EAT CAKES IF HE IS NOT TO EAT FLESH! The book is sort of written like a cooking show, so three main POV characters, trying to make it through the competition to win the Crane’s vast fortune and mansion. They fail? They get eaten. It’s novella length so likely will publish early next year.

Personal Note

I’m coming to realize more and more that one of my absolute favorite hobbies is gardening. This month, we ripped nearly everything out of our summer garden and planted seeds for the fall. Already we have collards, beets, carrots, beans, nasturtium, broccoli and a dozen varieties of lettuce sprouting up in the rich, dark soil and its twiggy blanket of mulch.

In addition to the veg garden, I’ve spent the month pruning back the many bushes and trees that must be managed in a biomass-centric yard such as my own. Hackberries had to be chopped, the kalamata olive needed a haircut, and the bitter orange had to be carefully pruned between its four-inch thorns so its bitter, bitter oranges could be harvested next year without a ladder.

I hate lawns. I fucking hate them. They’re a waste of resources: time, fertilizer and water (ain’t no sprinkler system in this house!) and the vast majority of the time, they’re a waste of space as well. If you and your kids/friends/lover play sports in your trim grass, more power to you! (Obviously sports fields and parks are great places for well-trimmed turf grass) But if all you do is mow so you can fit in with your neighbors, why not rip up some of that crap and put in some bushes! Once established Native Plants require next to no water, no fertilizer, and they attract native butterflies and birds! Maintenance is easier too: depending the plant, either let them grow or cut them back to the ground when the frost hits and turns their leaves brown. Our country spends more resources on lawns than any other crop, and yet most people do little besides maintain them and glance out their front window at the carpet of green while they watch TV. Join me in sequestering carbon and bringing birds back to our neighborhoods!

Bird of the Week

In search of a white faced ibis, I found myself basking in the heady aroma of decomposing human excrement while thick grey clouds sprinkled droplets of what I really hoped wasn’t—but also kind of understood to be—water that had once been inside a human.

Not one to be deterred by mud or mist, I parked my car and headed out on the narrow strip of land that runs between pond 1w and pond 2. Johnson grass and ragweed hid my approach from the ibis. Yellow warblers flitted back and forth in the overgrowth, all too aware of my passage. A multitude of swallows skimmed above the surface of pond 2. I should have stopped to better ID them, but this morning, I craved ibis.

On the far side of pond 1w, in mudflats whose composition made them untouchable to most humans, I saw them. Three white faced ibis stood amongst the grass, beckoning for the storm to unleash. I smiled, successful, and then I saw that these three had a fourth with them, an all-white bird with a pink face. A white ibis! I focused my binoculars, got the briefest look at its long-curved bill, and then clouds obeyed their feathered masters, and began to pour.

I froze for maybe twenty seconds as I waited for the rain to pass. It didn’t. Instead it grew harder. Hoping for more, but pleased with what I got, I sprinted for my car.

What a morning!

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