What mild spring weather we’ve been having! I thought about going to town with Michael today, but as I was trying to decide, he said, “It’s such a nice day, maybe you’d rather stay home.”

My husband knows that my favorite kind of workday is when I can pause to walk the dog or pick flowers between grading essays.

And I was remarkably productive despite the many walks I took outside. But who could blame me?

After a few days of watching one lone poppy waving in the breeze until it “melted” according to my little neighbor boy, who took one home. I had warned him that poppies only last for a day before the petals fall, but I think his fell sooner because of the extra stress of a little boy waving it around like a scarlet pinwheel on the long walk down our lane to his house.

Now we have over a dozen, with more coming, the buds nodding in the breeze. Several varieties of iris have bloomed, from a giant yellow to white to deep purple to a two toned, to my original light lavender that I dug from my grandmother, Nanny’s house so long ago: thirty years! I forget that I’ve got so many colors, so it’s always a surprise when they open with their ruffled petals, like Victorian ladies standing stately in my garden.

This morning when I awoke, Michael had already been out early, and had set up a sprinkler system for my China garden bed. He had pulled out the long hose and snaked it around the garage so I could just open the hydrant and not worry about the hose crossing the driveway. We could leave it hooked up, he told me, until I needed that hose to water my chickens.

After the sun has passed my garden, I put on the sprinkler, but the wind was coming so strongly out of the east that most of the water was sprinkling the driveway gravel, so I reset it.

We recently heard about “No Mow May.” It’s similar to the “No Shave November” our kids do, growing their beards each winter for warmth or fashion or simple laziness.

But No Mow May is for our ecology. Some communities have suspended tickets for an unmowed yard during the month of May to help restore habitat for our pollinators.

The idea is that we can give them a good start to the summer if we stop destroying their sources of pollen and nectar, at least temporarily. And in fact, my bees depend on dandelion pollen in early spring. I see them coming back to the hive loaded with bright orange pollen on their legs. Although dandelion flowers are yellow, the pollen is orange.

May is almost finished now, but since we live in the country and don’t have to worry about municipal ordinances, we’ve been doing a version of this for a while. It goes like this: We have parts of the yard where we don’t mow at all: my corner meadow, where

I’ve groomed a path lined with perennials, encouraging native plants to grow in the rest. Lots of trees have sprouted, but since I am not trying to grow a forest, we’ve been cutting most trees and pollarding the rest, topping them all at about six or seven feet.

In the next year or so, my meadow should have a sprinkling of little lollypop trees that won’t shade out my prairie plants. We also have another wildflower bed on the west side of the house, and a whole field of black eyed Susans, and of course, the spinney of trees that grew up where the old granary was.

The rest of the yard takes about a month to get around to, if we do a small section a couple of times a week, so that each section probably gets mowed about once per month. And when we do mow, we might decide to mow around a clump of yarrow or Susans or sweet rocket, creating more and more islands of flowers.

That means a good portion of the yard is always feeding the pollinators. But May is almost over, and if No Mow May doesn’t appeal to you, what about just leaving a small part of your yard natural? Michael calls this “No Mow Five to Keep Us Alive.”

His idea is if we could devote just five square feet to feed the pollinators, we could make a big difference, for the pollinators, for nature, for the world.

Walk in Beauty; Work in Peace; Blessed Be

Mary Lucille Hays teaches writing at UIUC and Zhejiang University in Haining, China. You can see pictures about this week’s post on Instagram @BirdlandLetters. Mary can be reached at letterfrombirdland@gmail.com or via snail mail care of the Journal Republican, 118 E. Washington St., Monticello, IL 61856.

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