Several months of the year, my home is a tropical paradise. Air thick with moisture, heat, and plant aromas. I live next to a wetland, and Indiana floodplain soil is about as good as it gets. In the summer we can’t keep up with the vegetation, and the poison ivy has flourished, so we had to start aggressively cutting back the brush. A job that needs done, but I sure do fret over what to get rid of. Two baby snakes slithering away, their shelter thrown to the side with some of the lopped off foliage. We picked them up and let them loose in the woods. I found a third one, but it had been cut by the shovel. Today, in some of the remaining undergrowth near the house, I saw two dragonflies. One blue, one green—electric colors, deep pigmented yet shining. They would perch, then fly, hover, and return to the same leaf. I think about the faraway places where people might still be that graceful of predators.
We went across the river for dinner and met a young guy from Myanmar. We were asking him about his home, all the exotic plants and animals. But he just kept talking about coyotes and how he’d love to hear them. I told him he just needs to get near the outskirts of the city. I hear coyotes nearly every night, those mournful, unsettling, wild cries. I came home once and caught a coyote eating one of our chickens—middle of the day, right in the yard.
Don’t believe the stuff about the smelly factories here. I mean, we have some in town. But that’s not all we have. Plus, that’s human ugliness—our shortsightedness and greed—we’re disgusted by, not this place. Not the plants and waterways and animals here—their vitality and beauty in spite of our taking for granted.
My friend talks about when he was younger and the first picture of Earth from space was broadcast to the world. He tears up as he talks about it. Our home.