I’ve been looking for a home for writing about landscapes and wildlife where I live, and surprise surprise, I’ve landed on an email newsletter! The nice thing about this format is that if you’re not interested, you can just part ways, as you would part ways with an opossum encountered on a sidewalk late at night—respectfully, like equals.

Like many great works of art, this photo is in the public domain.

I’m slowly working on a book about nature found at the margins of human structures and developments. As I do that, I’m gathering notes on plants found in our neighborhood; birds, mammals, and reptiles; and sketches, in words, of particular places; all with the goal of a more holistic view of places often passed off as too small to be a home for wildlife as it’s usually understood. I approach the wildlife of the untended fence-line as solemnly as I would Yosemite or the Everglades, and in doing so usually just make myself look ridiculous, like an opossum you catch gnawing on (delicious, to it) trash in your trashcan.

But books take a very long time to write, or at least they do for me, so in the meantime I can at least share some observations on a weekly or so basis. Here’s what I’ve got: flowers of the week, quotes from writers I admire, an ecologist’s take on the news, encounters with wildlife in our area, and maybe down the line interviews with like-minded scavengers.

I’m in Quincy, MA, on occupied Massachusett and Wampanoag ancestral lands. The average density of Quincy is 3,400 people per square mile, and our neighborhood in North Quincy is on the upper end of that density range. In other words, the BBC is not coming here anytime soon for Planet Earth. We don’t have a yard, so I have to get out of the building to see nature. While the observations I’ll share are inevitably particular to where I live, I hope that at least the concept of having a look at wildflowers found along many sidewalks, pocket parks, tree lawns, weedy soccer fields, and so on is something accessible to many. There are wildflowers now shared basically worldwide (for better or worse), so we’ll have those in common.

Anyway, explaining just makes things worse!

About the name: growing up I feel like we usually said a possum, as in I saw a possum walk away with that kid’s lunch, rather than an opossum absconded with that child’s noonday meal. In honor of that little bit of dialect, it’s “Possum Notes.” “Opossum Notes”?? Get outta here with that!

Feel free to get in touch with nature-themed questions via the comments or via email, possum.notes.substack [at] gmail dot com.