When I first thought about starting This Little Plot, it began as a vague vision of writing about nature, as a prism for viewing the world. This way I could write about anything. (It’s always been hard for me to make decisions.)
A friend and I once had a conversation about the difference between such things as gardens (a more “artificial/manmade” nature) and what we saw as “real” nature. Wilderness. Places where you’re the only human for miles around. My friend is, like me, a nature lover, and often scoffed at such things as parks, still in cities and surrounded by people. Not everybody wants or needs to get out into deep wilderness, but nearly everybody needs to be close to nature in some form. City parks and community gardens allow those without means (or desire) to leave town a way into the natural world. After all, humans are still part of nature and its cycles. We may build vast concrete barriers between ourselves and the soil, but eventually cracks appear – accidentally or by design – that allow us to glimpse our earth below.
Working late one afternoon, I heard a commotion in our garden. A loud flutter of wings, and squawks among flailing branches made me quicken my steps down the stairs. Nothing at first. I looked around, creeping lightly so as not to disturb whoever was there. Suddenly, a flurry of smaller birds took off into the air. I looked up. Perched on a bush not 5 feet from me was a falcon. In shock, I froze, wishing I had my camera. The peregrine, possibly also in shock, stared right at me with dark, unblinking eyes. I’d seen falcons before in the wild, but in our garden we’d only seen songbirds and corvids like ravens and crows, who chased each other in the sky and made their presence in the garden known with loud footsteps that we actually heard from just inside the house. I felt a shiver go down my back, the kind that only comes when encountering wildlife. Everything else fell away and in that moment, all that I needed and all that existed was me and that magnificent, wild animal.