Monday, May 13, 2013

A place in the sun?

photo of ferns growing in the sun
© harrington
Welcome! Thanks for visiting. Have you noticed that certain plants thrive in a location where the sunlight and moisture and soil type(s) best meet their needs? Along the ocean shores, there are some animals that only thrive within a narrow range in the intertidal zone, an area flooded with saltwater, usually twice daily. Bluefin tuna are creatures of the pelagic zone (open ocean). Ruffed grouse do very well in mixed-age poplar stands. With, maybe, the exception of the pelagic zone, none of these places would normally be considered to be a monoculture. Diversity, within limits, seems to provide an optimal habitat for many living things. One of my all-time favorite coffee shops is eclectic and diverse. I've been in other shops that have been the epitome of modern, with clean, simple lines. I haven't been able to thrive in them. I'm sure other folks prefer that type of place. I'm still working on the concept that if all that existed was what I like, the world could get awfully boring after awhile. Aldo Leopold has some wonderful essays on people, including him, learning that eliminating competing predators doesn't automatically mean more game for human predators. I think that we Minnesotans need to spend more time and effort thinking about all of this, and more, as we consider what kind of place we want Minnesota to be. If it were all corn and soybeans, farmers might make more money unless all the other farmland produced lots of corn and soybeans, creating a glut and low prices. How many acres of corn and soybeans do we need? How many trout streams are enough? (By the way, have you ever read Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America? Consider it for your summer reading list.) Do you ever miss the passenger pigeon? Have you seen a bison in person, on the prairie? Is it the same as seeing one in a zoo? Is baseball or football in a domed stadium as good as experiencing it played outside? Do we all have the same answer to each of these questions? Isn't the United States, and particularly Minnesota, about being the kind of place where we find ways to accommodate our differences with a minimal of exploitation and friction and bloodshed? I think that's what we started out to make, since we were founded largely by a group of religious dissidents looking for an opportunity to practice their (minority) religion in peace. We've made some fair size messes along the way it seems to me, but, overall, we seem to be continuing in the right direction despite ourselves and our neighbors. That's good, I think. What do you say about the kind of place you want Minnesota to be? Thanks for listening. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily.