reading and translating the 'birds of passage,' a nineteenth century ode to the birds of Jutland, has sharpened my sense of our twenty-first century ecological disaster. of course, i've been aware of certain aspects of it for years: our issues with garbage (waste management), chemical soil and plant additives, seed hybridization, deforestation, ozone depletion, and so forth. what i am exquisitely aware of, in my own life, is how important it is to me that we have birds around our house all the time. it's as if we are living in a little oasis of the nineteenth century here. our neighborhood is like a park, it's a horticultural wonder that has sprung up on the grasslands of the berkeley hills. in other words, it's mostly artificial. but it's older, and very much overgrown - a feature many newcomers do not like about berkeley - but that's just it, we don't 'manicure' or 'spray' much. (Although that is changing as a more monied group moves in. Berkeley used to be more about idealists of many ilks.) We wanted things to be 'organic' and to 'let nature be nature.' So we have some mighty tangles here and there around Berkeley, some briars that have gone bananas, but also just a lot of very relaxed-looking plants. I love the plants of Berkeley.
some of our plants are natives: live oaks, redwoods, pines. these are my favorite trees, and they just exude spirit and soul. we have our wonderful regional park system, and of course, the bay and ocean with its offshore winds, so nature still thrives here. there are many neighborhoods like ours, full of trees, shrubs, deer, raccoon, possums, skunks, squirrels and birds. we don't have to go far to find rabbits, foxes, coyotes, and more deer, even elk, living wild on large tracts of undeveloped governement-owned and private land. but it seems, in the big picture, to be such a small area. it's like living in an oasis.