Fran Adams, and the text book she assigned was Noah's Garden.
In her book, Sara Stein tells the story of her back yard. She inherited a wild and unkempt back yard, and slowly made it conform to what she thought a garden was supposed to look like. Then, with everything orderly and in place, she realized that the birds and other critters she had come to love had disappeared, and asked herself (and some experts) what she could do to return her back yard to the wildlife paradise she used to have.
Each chapter of the book is about one of the ways in which she works on bringing the garden back to harmony. "Fruits in Their Season" is about the the berries and crabapples she now has, but she sees the big picture. "Did we plant the woodland garden of early spring ephemerals before or after I realized hat the honeybees are close to starving at that tie of the year, and that feeding early-hatching flies is critical to feeding early-arriving bluebirds?" I'm always amazed by how much she sees, how much she considers, and how her labors are abundantly rewarded. "Who Gets to Stay Aboard the Ark" is about the critters we don't always appreciate. And again, she considers the web of life:" We are all connected. A hawk may eat a snake that ate a mouse that ate a nut for breakfast, but the beech nub may have come from your tree, the mouse from my field, the snake from our shared wall, the hawk from a hundred miles north, and all of them must be supported on a varied and extensive smorgaboard."
It's an amazing and inspiring book. Then again, as I read it, I wondered why I couldn't find the predator for the Argentine ant that haunts my garden. The answer is simple: This ant isn't supposed to be here, as are other pest brought here from far away. So in some ways, the idea of nature in balance, of things working out, while pleasant, is possibly not always realistic.
But regardless, it's important for each of us to do what we can. And really, there are days when I can use all the inspiration I can get. Where I need to believe that miracles are possible. Where I need to remind myself that yes, I stopped using pesticides and planting natives, and now I have lizards and birds. And who knows, if more of us read this book, if more of us became inspired, we could all have more birds. The Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly might still come back to the SF Peninsula if enough gardeners plant Aristolochia Californica. Who wants a cutting?