Our place in Seattle has a back yard of sorts.
It has been landscaped into a cobblestone patio with a gradually ascending collection of little plateaus, all terminating at a huge laurel thicket that, along with chain link, makes for a barrier between us and our uphill neighbor.
The plateaus were originally planted with the obvious stuff: rhododendrons.
There was also some slightly less obvious stuff: evergreen huckleberry, red pacific coast huckleberry, wild currant and sarcococca.
There is also a walnut tree, usually called English walnut.
Over time most of the rhododendrons and all of the native plants have died.
Except the evergreen huckleberry.
The sarcococca has thrived.
And various things have added themselves as if by magic: butterfly bush, a black walnut tree, a hazelnut bush and frais de bois - wild strawberries among others.
If you pay attention in the spring the strawberries produce fruit that is excellent.
There have always been some towhees in our neighborhood but there were none in our back yard before the restructure.
To give the landscaping and planting some sort of meaning, early on I decided that I would consider it all worthwhile if towhees decided to nest in our back yard: towhees are ground nesting members of the sparrow family so they really like thickets for habitat.
Several years ago I was on the back deck having an early evening martini when I heard, somewhere in the rapidly increasing volunteer underbrush, the unmistakable rasp of a towhee.
I don't know if it was nesting, but it was there.
And it - they - have been ever since.