I live in Columbia, Maryland, one of America’s great cities. As I have reported here before, the back of my house looks to the north on a pond or small lake perhaps a hundred feet in diameter half filled with water reeds. All around the pond are trees, of every variety I know of, and lower-growing brush. This pond, which has no name I’m aware of, is one of many bodies of water throughout the city. Ponds are everywhere, and there are several lakes. The largest that sits between Route 29 and the commercial center of the city (including its famous mall) is named Lake Kittamaqundi.
Throughout Columbia interspersed among the homes and village centers are wild areas filled with tress and crisscrossed by macadam walkways. One such walk encircles the pond in back of my house. Joined to it are many more miles of walk that allow me to go on foot to any point in the city.
Because of the preservation of broad sections of wild land and lakes and ponds within the city, I regularly see all manner of animals as I sit on my deck overlooking the pond. The most common are squirrels who scamper through the trees. But I also often see deer in the open field to the east of my house and all along the narrow stretch of land between my patio and the waters of the pond. Geese and ducks are regular visitors to the pond, usually announcing their arrival and departure flights by loud quacking and honking. Occasionally I see a single fox loitering close to the water, and once a month or so, I spot a single rabbit munching on grass. Once, maybe a year ago, I watched a pair of raccoons in a tree that overlooks my deck, and one day last week I saw for the first time a lone beaver dip into the pond then come back up on dry land.
All this is only possible because of the foresight and careful planning of the founder of Columbia, the late Jim Rouse. I am privy to observing wildlife because I live in what is arguably America’s finest city. I will always be grateful to Mr. Rouse.