Thoughts on well-being, sustainability and those things that constitute a good life beyond consumption.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A reason to conserve

Over the past few weeks, I have been immersed in writings by and about Leopold and Carson. Buried in the pages are some sentences of extraordinary wisdom and beauty beyond anything I could ever compose. One of my favorites from Leopold, perhaps because it reminds me of Wangari Maathai:

 Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how. To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither god nor poet; one need only own a shovel. By virtue of this curious loophole in the rules, any clodhopper may say: Let there be a tree - and there will be one.”

And from Carson - in her "postscript to the day" written to Dorothy Freeman, about her last day in Maine - is about Monarchs.  
But most of all I shall remember the monarchs, that unhurried westward drift of one small winged form after another, each drawn by some invisible force. We talked a little about their migration, their life history. Did they return? We thought not; for most, at least, this was the closing journey of their lives.
But it occurred to me this afternoon, remembering, that it had been a happy spectacle, that we had felt no sadness when we spoke of the fact that there would be no return. And rightly – for when any living thing has come to the end of its life cycle we accept that end as natural.
For the Monarch, that cycle is measured in a known span of months. For ourselves, the measure is something else, the span of which we cannot know. But the thought is the same: when that intangible cycle has run its course it is a natural and not unhappy thing that a life comes to an end.

That is what those brightly fluttering bits of life taught me this morning. I found a deep happiness in it – so I hope, may you. Thank you for this morning.
The letter can be found in Linda Lear's biography of Carson, Witness for Nature,  or at:
After reading these and pondering their power, I think, that if for no other reason, we need to conserve the beauty in the world around us so that people like Leopold and Carson can give us such beautiful and enriching words of inspiration.

1 comment:

  1. A former student sent me this:

    "Fisherman, hunters, woodchoppers, and others, spending their lives in the fields and woods, in a peculiar sense a part of Nature themselves, are often in a more favorable mood for observing her, in the intervals of their pursuits, than philosophers or poets even, who approach her with expectation." (Thoreau)

    And not necessarily a quote directly about nature per say, but one from one of our living greats of ecology, F.S. Chapin III, "There is still a lot of good ecology to be done with a shovel."

    Thanks Todd!