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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: April 27, 2022

Janie Thibodeau Martin

No-Mow May

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Bravo Peshtigo City Council, for voting to trial a one-year observation of No-Mow May!

No Mow May is a conservation initiative popularized by Plantlife, an organization based in the United Kingdom. Its simple premise is that we can help wildlife, specifically early season pollinators, by refraining from mowing our yards as soon as the lawn starts growing. That's right, I am encouraging you to do less work!

We have been conditioned (to a great extent, by clever ads) to think of a solid green, manicured carpet of grass to be the ideal lawn. We fertilize, treat with weed killers, water and trim with care, hoping to have a lawn that fills us with pride, and is the envy of all our neighbors. Such a vision requires money, and a lot of labor. But in a world where we cared more about our fellow creatures, these same lawns would sport longer grass, dandelions, diminutive wood violets and carpets of purple creeping charlie ?? early spring food sources for bees, moths and butterflies, among others. Such a lawn can be thought of as a badge of laziness or neglect ?? but for increasing numbers of people, it is, instead, a sign of engagement in conservation.

Many Wisconsin communities have adopted an initiative like the one Peshtigo is trialing, which helps increase awareness and participation in No-Mow initiatives, but also shields citizens from citations from city inspectors who may respond to complaining neighbors. (This protection, it should be noted, ends in June, and you are advised to register in advance as a participant.) Among Wisconsin No-Mow communities is Appleton, which had 435 homes participating in 2020. Scientists comparing Appleton lawns found No Mow May lawns had five times the number of bees and three times the number of separate bee species as those who mowed their lawns regularly throughout the month. Stevens Point also started the initiative last year, and had double the number of households anticipated register. Some doubt many people in the city of Peshtigo will participate. I'd love to hear that lots of you surprised them with your willingness to give this a try!

Not everyone likes unmown lawns, even for a single month. One woman in Prarie du Chein was awakened by a police officer pounding on her front door, as her neighbor had reported she might be ill or dead since her lawn wasn't mowed. Another one of her neighbors was so uptight about the unmown lawn, they mowed it without the homeowner's permission! That woman plans on participating again this year, not to make anyone mad, but because she sees it as the right thing to do.

This is a small effort to protecting our imperiled bees. But every little bit does help ?? and your unmowed lawn may spark interest or curiosity in others to give it a try as well. Just because big problems seem insurmountable is not an excuse for doing something small if we can.

Citizens of Peshtigo - If your neighbor's yard looks a little ratty this May, try not to let it bother you. Maybe pull your blinds if you can't stand the sight. Enjoy sleeping in Saturday morning without the droning of a lawnmower next door disturbing you. Maybe the bees your neighbor nourished by sparing the May mowing will pollinate your garden vegetables for you, ensuring a better harvest. Perhaps they will visit your apple trees, increasing your crop. Pollinators feed us all ?? sparing a few early dandelions for them is the least we can do.

I would love to see a time when those who leave their lawns uncut in May are admired, and not reported to the authorities, scorned, or viewed as bad neighbors. Many hack, weed, and spray almost the entire growing season. It's not much of a sacrifice to spare the mower in May. Treat yourself by using the time you would have been mowing to fish, watch baseball, or take a walk. Maybe even take a nap!

Note: Thanks to the environmentally-aware reader from the Pound area who requested I promote no-mow May a few weeks ago, and to the City of Peshtigo for their well-timed decision!

Book I am reading: "The Library," by Susan Orlean. Non-fiction, a best seller in 2018. A story about the biggest library fire in modern history; a mystery of "whodunit," and a treasure trove of fascinating information about our public libraries. If you are thinking "a book about libraries has to be the most boring read ever," I bet you will change your mind if you give it a chance. And if you are a taxpayer who wonders why we should fund public libraries in this time of internet-everything, this book may make you more open-minded about what libraries do these days!

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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