Robert U. Montgomery

Tall Grass Delights

My house sits on 1 ½ acres, with much of the land sloping steeply down to the lake.

As soon as I moved in, I started allowing grass to grow unchecked on both sides. I did this to cut down on runoff and improve water quality in the lake.

Instinctively, I knew that allowing the land to exist naturally again would attract wildlife, but I really didn’t give it much thought.

Late sleeper

By July of that first summer, though, I had watched skunks, possums, rabbits, and squirrels prowling about in the tall grass, just uphill from an oak-covered slope that separates it from the lake. Then, in August, I saw a turkey hen and her chicks chasing grasshoppers.

The following June, I walked out early one morning to see a spotted fawn nestled in the grass, not 30 feet from my basement door. That’s it in the photo above.

And the next summer, I walked out about sunrise one morning to come face to face with a young black bear. I did
not photograph it. I bolted one way and it the other.

I could go on and on about all the animals that I have seen among the grass and wildflowers. But I’m going to skip to today.

I keep a path mowed so that I can walk through the area without being assaulted by chiggers and ticks. Animals, especially deer, use the path as well.

This morning, I looked out to see a young fox dart along the path and then spring into the grass. I suspected that it was hunting.

But then it bounced back out and ran, with another fox hot on its heels.

For 15 minutes, I watched those two gambol about like puppies. They chased, and pounced, and reared up at each other in mock assaults.

And, yes, I thought about grabbing my camera for some photos. But to do that, I would have had to walk away from that rare and beautiful sight for a few seconds. I couldn’t do it.

My conclusion: people who have the option of allowing a little of their property to return to nature and don’t do it are missing out. It’s good for the land and water; it’s good for the fish and wildlife; and it’s good for keeping us connected to all of those, which enriches us in ways we can’t imagine unless we experience them.