Are the worries of the world weighing you down? My strategy for dealing with this mental burden is to add wildness to the spaces around me - primarily to my yard! In transforming this space, I have been able to attract more than 100 species of birds to my yard while maintaining an organic garden with delicious fruits and vegetables. This space has become my sanctuary and an oasis for birds and other wildlife.
You can do the same!
Join me for a thoughtful weekly discussion about re-wilding your piece of the world and finding peace in a time of uncertainty. It doesn’t matter if you have a large yard or a balcony … you can create pockets of wildness anywhere. This will make you feel at home among kindred spirits.
The impossible standards of uniform perfection that we and our spaces are judged by are now open for debate. Cultural norms are shifting. Expansive lawns and heavily manicured public parks are giving way to native plants and vegetable gardens that nurture wildlife and our sense of well-being. These spaces sequester carbon, hold water, produce food, provide habitat, and connect humans with nature while retaining small areas of lawn. It is a win-win scenario.
You can be part of this movement. Learning to cultivate native plants and a garden can seamlessly integrate habitat into your landscaping. You can start small or go big all at once. Whatever you do, you will be part of a larger trend toward reclaiming the earth’s wildness. And a walk through these wild spaces will be a new experience every day as winged migration brings new birds and butterflies with the changing of the seasons.
Who is Bill Davison?
I have always felt a strong connection to nature. I studied birds for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and I am the author of two Birds of the World profiles and articles on birds in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Currently, I am on the board of the local chapter of the Audubon Society, and I spend many hours a week photographing birds at local parks and natural areas. During gardening season, you can find me in my yard tending to vegetables and perennial berry and fruit tree crops.
I grew up in northern Ohio, where my dad worked as a mechanic and my mom raised four kids. When I was born she was transitioning out of an Old Order Amish community. I spent most of my childhood outdoors and worked on farms throughout high school. I then joined the Army and used the GI Bill to pay for college. I worked as a biologist for The Nature Conservancy and spent seven years running my own organic vegetable farm. I transitioned out of farming and worked as an Extension Educator for the University of Illinois. During that time, I started an urban food forest in a local park. That led me to work with tree crops and, ultimately, a job in agroforestry with the Savanna Institute.
Throughout my thirties and early forties, I felt like I never quite fit in and I used alcohol to ease my discomfort. Then, I discovered Rich Roll and his amazing podcast, and my life was forever changed. It was as if Rich was speaking directly to me. I listened to hundreds of podcast episodes and read hundreds of books, and I felt something inside me shift. I lost the taste for alcohol as I learned about and experienced the power of a growth mindset, a plant-based diet, and sleeping well.
I learned to slow down and pay attention to myself and my inner thoughts and needs. I also encountered new research that documented the many benefits of spending time in nature. That led me to join a like-minded community of bird watchers. Spending quality time in nature with kindred spirits has opened up new horizons and nurtured a sense of well-being and a feeling of being at home in the world.
I now realize the importance of focusing on the small things we can do every day to make life more meaningful. These are intentional acts that connect us to a place. Planting native plants for beneficial insects. Feeding birds in my yard. Tending a garden. Taken together they help me to engage in an ancient reciprocal relationship with nature. As I continue to break free from the confines of our modern cultural conditioning, I experience a deepening of my relationship with nature. The less I seek to control, the more she gives.
I live in town now with my lovely wife, two amazing sons, and our strange cat. Our yard is a wild, domestic sanctuary. We live in the middle of a mid-sized Midwestern town that is slowly embracing sustainability. A grade school down the street just completed a 16-acre natural playground. The pedestrian trail that connects the school to our downtown will soon be home to a bird sanctuary. The trail north of town passes by a city park with flourishing native plants. A few blocks to the east a thriving food forest in a city park serves as a regional attraction where people enjoy walking in the shade and picking organic fruits and nuts.
As the trail continues north it leaves town and enters the country. This is where we are working to restore wetlands and native prairies that will eventually form a natural corridor between our town and the Mackinaw River. As the greening of minds and lands grows, we will merge with the Illinois River and watch as the momentum of our movement sparks large-scale restoration. This same dynamic is happening around the world, and you can support it in your community. It all begins in your yard.
What can you expect from my newsletter. Read on.
I had a lunch date with an American Redstart. We met at a sun-dappled apple tree on the trail in our neighborhood park. I stood transfixed beneath the tree as she danced like light on the branches. She hopped, hovered, dropped like a rock, and coursed through the canopy in pursuit of insects with that characteristic redstart style.
This is the fourth day I have seen her in the same tree. She routinely perches on a branch within two feet of me. I know it is the same bird; she is missing her left eye and she has a distinct look and style of foraging.
I have never seen a warbler so close for so long. She is tiny, vivacious, and in constant motion.
It is hard to describe her. She is so small and so alive. When you see her up close she becomes smaller rather than larger and when you realize that she is covered in fluffy feathers you know that her actual body is smaller yet. She is 4 inches long and half of that is her tail. She weighs 6 grams or 0.2 ounces. This is equivalent to a quarter. If you hold a quarter in your hand it barely registers as anything at all.
She has an outsized personality for a miniature animal. When seen up close she is startling. Her eye sparkled in the shade. She is filled with light, energy, and a personality and life that is beyond our understanding. This is why birds are so intriguing, they can draw us into their world and in the process draw us into nature.
I have thought a lot about how to make a paid subscription worthwhile. Every subscriber will receive dispatches at least once per week. Members, though, will have access to everything that I publish. Members will also be invited to participate in regular chats and get more comprehensive and detailed bonus material and other perks. This will help you save time and money and ensure that you begin with time-tested practical ways of turning your yard into an oasis for yourself and wildlife.
Ultimately, the goal of Easy by Nature is for readers to feel seen and supported, to learn, to laugh, to share advice, to experience wonder, and to join a community of like-minded people.
That’s what you get when you join Easy by Nature, and why we think it’s worth it: membership is $6 per month or $50 per year.
Need Easy by Nature for free? No problem. Want to support us by paying more? Also no problem.
Easy by Nature can only exist with your support; yearly and monthly memberships will support my work on this project. At the same time, I want to help as many people as possible. So, if you want to become a member but can’t for whatever reason, just email us (email@example.com) and ask for a free membership. You don’t have to say why; it’s yours, no questions asked.
On the flip side, if you’re doing fine, and want to support this project, you can give a membership as a gift or become a Deeply Rooted Member for $200 — or more if you want to support this work on an even deeper level.
For me, Easy by Nature is both the natural continuation of three decades of work and, fingers crossed, the beginning of something that will last at least three more. There is much to be done. I hope you’ll join us.
Thank you, thank you to all of my subscribers. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for your support!
Contact: If you have any questions, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or reply directly to any issue of Easy by Nature.
To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.