Image copyright Zoe Weil.

Growing up in Manhattan, I always marveled at the capacity of nonhuman life to thrive in the city. For example, there was a tree a few blocks from our apartment building that had grown from a dark pit underground, up through a tight sidewalk grating, into a fully leaved and impressive canopy.

Then there were the pigeons. Pigeons are otherwise known as rock doves, originally native to wild rocky cliff regions of Europe, Northern Africa, and Asia. I’ve seen them only a few times in the wild and never very many at one time. But they’re ubiquitous in big cities across the globe, where they’ve turned highrise window ledges into nesting sites. Some people don’t much like pigeons – calling them rats with wings (rats being another denizen of cities) – but I love them. I love their various coloring, the way their heads move as they walk, and their soothing coos.

When I was recently in New York City, performing my 1-woman show, I came upon a small puddle after a rain. Bathing in the puddle were sparrows and starlings (see photo). How sweet these little birds were, careful to avoid passersby, but quick to return to the puddle for their bath and then pick up the crumbs on the ground from people’s lunches and snacks.

Life is all around us, so pervasive and persistent. Grass seeds take root in specks of soil in cracks in the sidewalk. Winged maple leaves helicopter to the street and find themselves a sandy spot to grow; and come fall, you suddenly notice them because their autumn vermilion color stands out against the grey of the street. Those trees-to-be won’t grow beyond seedlings, of course, but they remain tenacious ‘til the end.

How amazing life is.

~ Zoe

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxConejo talk: “Solutionaries”
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach
My TEDxYouth@BFS “Educating for Freedom”

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