Place Where You Live:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

There’s a wild turkey in the neighbor’s yard. Kitty-corner across the street, laminated photos of a young man are taped onto a tree trunk. He was murdered near that spot four years ago. The place where I live is full of contrasts, this little slice of a city neighborhood in Milwaukee. There are break-ins, thefts and other crime. And yet…it’s a place diverse in flora, fauna and people who care about it. We plant purple coneflowers, milkweed and other native plants. We grow tomatoes and cucumbers, any vegetable we can in our city lots during the brief summer. There is an unkempt raspberry patch between our house and the neighbor’s. In July, we harvest the berries from this wild place where rabbits, snakes and frogs have made homes. In our backyard at dusk, a fuzzy-fat hummingbird moth – all beating wings and busy proboscis – regularly visits our orange and pink zinnias. Wilderness is always close at hand in this urban place. Walk half a city block behind our house and enter the forested corridor along the Milwaukee River. Woodpeckers, chickadees, cardinals, and redwing blackbirds live there. Seagulls, ducks, and geese fly over the river and swim in it. On fallen trees on the river banks, otherworldy fungi in shades of orange and yellow grow. Blue herons and hawks make appearances, maybe come up to the ‘hood. A regal hawk perches on a chain-link fence against a backdrop of garbage cans, recycling bins and weeds growing out of pavement cracks in the alley. Raccoons, opossums, and woodchucks stumble onto our city blocks. That affable wild turkey hangs out near the edge of the forest and wanders into our yards or the school parking lot. My son and his friends shout out greetings from their game at the basketball court. Earlier this summer, a young deer sprinted down our city street, heard several dogs barking, turned around and headed back toward the forest, closely passing my daughter and me on the sidewalk. We stood observing from under the sugar maple tree, in deep appreciation of the place where we live.