I take the kids out walking around the neighborhood whenever the weather cooperates. They like to walk down the alleys and see which backyards have dogs, and we talk about all kinds of things regarding plants and animals and just whatever they see.
The area I live in is a pretty typical suburban kind of place- the backyards all look fairly similar. Fenced, grass, yard toys and/or dog, maybe a garden. The usual. And then there's this one house that we always have to stop and look at. One panel of the fence is made of trellis material- that latticework stuff so you can see into the whole yard. The place looks like a jungle. We can hear water running, although we can't find the place it's coming from. It looks like they haven't mowed in a hundred years. Trees are all over the place and one has fallen over. There are random birdbaths and birdhouses in various spots. It's fun to look at but I never could figure out why they didn't just MOW, for the love of pete! It's pretty unkempt and wild looking.
And then it all became clear with the new sign on the fence one day when we walked by:
"Backyard Wildlife Habitat: This property provides the four basic habitat elements needed for wildlife to thrive: food, water, cover, and places to raise young. It has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as an official Backyard Wildlife Habitat site."
I had no idea such a thing existed, but I love this!! Now we can look at it with new eyes and talk about the different areas and what their purposes might be. We were even able to talk to the owner the other day while he was outside raking leaves and he explained some of the rationale behind the placement. Very cool. What we thought was a birdhouse is actually a BAT house.
Funny how you can go from thinking something is bad and needs to be cleaned, to thinking it's amazing and exactly right, just by understanding the situation. Seems like a good lesson to learn on many levels.