Tuesday, June 7, 2016

All politics, #phenology, and place is local

Early this morning two does were highlighted in the far meadow by the rising sun. By the time I got back with my camera, they'd moved on, leaving only a magical memory to start the day. If you use your imagination to move the doe in the picture below out of the pine's shadow and into the middle of the grasses closer to the tree line and add a friend, you'll have a sense of this morning's view.

whitetail deer in Summer meadow, part of her home range
whitetail deer in Summer meadow, part of her home range
Photo by J. Harrington

You might have picked up on the fact that I'm a fan of Wendell Berry's writing and philosophy, if you visit at all regularly. This morning, reading the latest issue of Taproot magazine, I found one of his basic, fundamental declarative statements that I want to share:
We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.
Mr. Berry wrote those words in The Long-Legged House, his earliest(?) publication. They remind me quite a bit of the perspective of another writer I admire, Gary Snyder, who tells us to "Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there."

I've been thinking quite a bit recently about how we can each find our place and learn what is good for the world and us. Part of the answer, I think, is based on to each of us finding our own "home range," however large or small we believe that needs to be. But then we need also to realize that our range is nested within, and contains, larger and smaller ranges, like a matryoshka doll, the nested Russian dolls. Another way to look at it is that each of us has, or needs, a home address, on a street, within a zip code, city or town, state, country, planet, solar system, etc. Starting with our home, we should know about where we are, our place, and who we share our range with. How often does that happen for those of us in "developed" countries?

The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain

By Wallace Stevens


There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactnesses
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.


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