I believe that if one fathoms deeply one’s own neighborhood and the everyday world in which he lives, the greatest of worlds will be revealed.
~ Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution
You can’t know who you are until you know where you are.
~ Wendell Berry
While out on a walk yesterday, marveling at just how green and wild everything has become in a short period of time, I got to thinking about the wildness of nature, the domestication of humans, and how we humans have, in turn, tried to domesticate nature.
I just finished reading The Overstory, a novel by Richard Powers. It is, to me, a wonderful book. It is not all love and light and happiness. No good fairy tale worth its salt is, and that’s what I think this book is, in its way. A fairy tale. Then again, and now that I think about it, perhaps there is more realism than magic to this book in that the author seems to have done his homework when it comes to what science has been learning about trees and nature. For the book is about trees, or mostly trees, and our relationship with and to them and what that might mean for our future.
The book has had me thinking about green, what it means to be green, and just pondering the color itself. There is so much wild green in the season of spring. And so many different varieties of the color. It’s pretty astounding.
In addition, this spring has reminded me that nature is wild, no matter how much we try to make it otherwise. And we (M and I) do try. We try because it’s more comfortable for us to keep the critters from encroaching on our own habitat. We keep the grass mowed for a good distance around the house to keep the snakes, raccoons, opossums, and other creatures from living and being too close to the house. We keep it mowed because of ticks, especially deer ticks. Deer ticks are the reason we start scaring the deer off once there is enough for them to eat in the meadows and woods.
Nature’s reminders this spring have come in the form of being chased by a rabid raccoon and finding a venomous snake near the house. I’ve always known those things could be out there, but I don’t think about it much when I go out on my walks because we’ve tamed what was almost a jungle out there. The difference between now and when we bought the property is obvious when I flip through old photographs.
It appears I like my contacts with nature to be tame. Maybe not as tame as some who prefer it cleaned up and placed within the boundaries of a park, but still. I don’t like playing the spring and fall game of “shadow, stick, or snake” (wherein you have to decide it what you’re seeing and approaching is a shadow, a stick, or a snake on the path). I say that I am not afraid of snakes, and that statement is both true and false. If I see the snake before it moves, I will marvel at it, take photographs, stand and watch it for a while (as long as it isn’t too close). If I am startled by the movement of a snake (which is usually the case because snakes are often hard to see until they move), then there is an element of fear. M the Younger states that’s because snakes move in a way that nothing else on earth moves, that there is a creepiness to the way they smoothly slither across the ground and over things.
When nature is personal, the world is peopled by rocks, trees, rivers, and mountains, all of whom are actors and agents, protagonists of their own stories rather than just props in a human story. When Earth is truly alive, the world is full of persons, only some of whom are human.
~ Priscilla Stuckey, Kissed by a Fox: And Other Stories of Friendship in Nature
Wandering back around to stories, of the idea that we need a new mythology, I read this wonderful essay yesterday: Hallowed Ground. I promise, I am not connected to Emergence Magazine in any way other than as a person who loves the stories. I find hope in their essays and stories. In talking about faith, religion, and the ecological crisis, Martin Giles Palmer (theologian, Taoist scholar, radio personality in the U.K., and secretary general of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation) who was interviewed for this essay, says, “What we need are … much more local stories.… We need to give people confidence to rename things and to recover names of things and, in a sense, to become much more local in order that we each have something to contribute to the more global.” Also: “Human beings are capable of extraordinary change if given the space to do it. Not by fear, and not by data. But by story.”
Thank you so much for stopping by today and joining me on another meander. The rain from the weekend continues. It has cooled things off considerably and tomorrow looks like it will be a gorgeous day with sunshine and a high in the 60’s. The clouds are expected to clear out before sunset so I’ll meet you at the Point and we’ll see what we can see. Sunset is scheduled for 8:05 PM. I’ll be there about 20 minutes before that, just to have a look around and maybe take a little walk.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be. 🙂
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,071) The way the colors pop on rainy days, especially all the greens. 1,072) Working in the garden, digging around in the dirt and pulling weeds. It’s much easier to do when the ground is wet from a good rainfall. 1,073) An otter swimming around and catching fish in the pond this morning. 1,074) Good books and good stories. 1,075) M, always.
We ought not to say ‘the tree (became) green’ or ‘the tree (is) now green’ (both of which imply a change in the tree’s ‘essence’), but rather ‘the tree greens’.
By using the infinitive form of ‘to green’, we make a dynamic attribution of the predicate, an incorporeality distinct from both the tree and green-ness which captures nonetheless the dynamism of the event’s actualisation.
The event is not a disruption of some continuous state, but rather the state is constituted by events ‘underlying’ it that, when actualised, mark every moment of the state as a transformation.