I was reminded this week of my “third Grandma” (my Aunt’s mother) and the sense of awe and wonder she instilled in me as we spent weekends at her house during my childhood. For her every natural event, “critter” sighting, flower in bloom, or ripened tomato was cause for celebration and wonder. She would even wake us up in the middle of the night to happily exclaim that the deer were in her garden (this was over 40 years ago when this was a rare event).

She knew every square inch of her garden and the woods beyond. She knew where the fox den was and when the kits were born, where the butterfly chrysali or the moth coccoons were, where every bird’s nest on her property was. She knew the name of every butterfly, bird, frog or toad, or any other critter that crossed her path.

She was also very protective of her critters, chasing away dogs, cats, and anything else that came too close. Now she would say that she was just a gardener but to me she was an amazing naturalist, full of curiosity about the events of the natural world around her.

Today, I am that gardener, fiercely protective of my “critters” and full of joy and wonder at every sighting. But it saddens me that there are not as many critters as there were when I was young. Some may be gone forever because we haven’t left them any place to go.

That’s where you come in. Your garden and the choices you make to help wildlife by sharing your space with them are critical. Reclaim your sense of childhood awe and wonder. Create a place for wildlife in your garden.

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