In the 1950's to early 1960's, as a youngster, I grew up in Rocky River, a western suburb of Cleveland. I hiked- toting binoculars and butterfly net- from my backyard into a beautiful woods that eventually opened up to a meadow full of grape vines gone wild and a host of prairie grasses mixed with wildflowers. Beyond that meadow, hiking west, I'd come to another Eastern deciduous woods full of towering Maple, Beech, and Oak.
Monarch butterflies, by the millions, passed through the area each Fall. Hawks, owls, wild pheasants, songbirds, woodpeckers, turtles, frogs, waterfowl, muskrat, snakes, deer, fox, and rabbit thrived. Small family farms interspersed this paradisaical landscape from Rocky River to Avon Lake and they blended in naturally, a seamless stretch of green.

Then, after going going off to college, I witnessed it all succumb to land developers. Bulldozers, cement trucks, and steam shovels reduced MY Shangri La into a sterile manscape. The natural marshes and wetlands were dredged out and the edges filled with gravel, leaving only lifeless liquid holes "beautified" with artificial water fountains and multi-colored lights. Where are the kids to catch frogs, raise tadpoles, or watch beautiful pintails and teal through binoculars? The meadows were reduced to an endless stretch of parking lots, strip malls, and condos.

The towering deciduous woodlands were clear cut and replaced with housing units. Where are the children going to build tree houses out of scrap wood or enjoy the shade on a hot summer's day under a thick canopy of leaves?

It all happened so quick! I came home from college one hot summer day and found the large Pin Oak tree I built a woodern platform high up in. It miraculously escaped the bulldozer. The ladder of wooden slats I nailed to its mighty trunk were still there. I climbed back into my youth and sat on the platform, gazing out over the manscape in front of me. The gentle, sustainable green landscape was gone, forever- wavy lines from heat reflecting off an endless stretch of asphalt replaced it. Starlings were raiding the dumpsters behind the strip mall in the distance. Not a songbird, butterfly, dragonfly, wildflower or stretch of green, save sterile grass lawns, were visible.
Sierra Club
It was at that moment that a thought came to me. What if the thousands of home sites and businesses converted sections of their large, lifeless green chem-lawn yards into butterfly or songbird gardens? What if the local nurseries offered indigenous plants and thousands of home owners planted native flowers, shrubs and trees that were wildlife friendly? Why can't Swallowtails, Monarchs, cotton-tail rabbits, bird-succulent insects and the songbirds that feed on them all find food, cover, and nesting sites amidst this treeless and sterile-lawn expanse of manscape?

I think it can be done, yard-by-yard and changed attitude-by-changed attitude. That's the purpose of this blog site. Enjoy the site!

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S.