Life perseveres under the least promising circumstances. Toledo, like a lot of places, has seen its share of business failures and urban blight in the last few decades. Our pleasant neighborhood is no exception. The residential streets are green and lively, but the main thoroughfares show a number of vacant and vanished buildings and lots of rusted chain-link fence. Today, taking an unofficial pedestrian shortcut from the commercial area, I noticed insect sounds coming from the asphalt expanse of what seems once to have been the parking lot of some business but is today a vacant lot used for equipment storage. I am worse with insect calls than birdcalls, so the singer was never identified, but insects need food and cover, so I took a closer look at the tiny greenspace between the former business site and the former access road. What I saw was gratifying.
The area boasts the remnants of a planting strip--the standard burning bush, juniper, and a dying yew, but also a circle of native yucca under a maple. The uncared-for grass is hanging on but has been invaded by white clover, native plantain, and something with tallish stems and dandelion-like blooms. The last plant was happily going to seed, as was the spotted spurge growing out of every available crack in the decrepit pavement. A mulberry had sprouted at the edge of the burning bush hedge, no doubt planted by a bird. And then, an unexpected addition to this wild non-garden: an American linden, nearly three feet tall, had come up through a break in the pavement. While the tree isn't likely to get to live to adulthood in its current site, the fact that it was there made my day.