Preface

 

  “How shall the linden tree enter into a discussion with someone

who reproaches him for not being an oak?”   Bertolt Brecht

                        


     Author Notes:  Today it is difficult for most humans to appreciate simple backyard exploration.  After all, we are pre-conditioned to countless spectacular nature images, bountiful throughout all media, like those found in National Geographic magazine.   But if you expect to find Disney-style fun here, or to watch more hi-res close-ups like those on the TV show Planet Earth, you will be sadly disappointed. 


     The same will be true if you confuse personal mindfulness for entertainment.  Because this project is merely a modest diary of what I have personally encountered around my wooded one-acre.  I am not a photographer.  In fact, I truly loath cameras, and have written extensively about how ubiquitous image-making today is tantamount to social pornography.  This claim is no exaggeration


    Still, I live on this Earth and in this Culture, which also comprises my isolated (for now) wooded community; and so as I grow older I want to engage, study, remember and cherish the natural world around me.  I do this purely for private intellectual profit, which is more than mere human vanity.  For I consider the forest surrounding my home to be my church, yet it is being threatened.  I wager most of this magical mystical world, along with the creatures living in it, will be lost in only a few short years, changed or gone forever...along with its memory.

                       


               “The greatest delight which the woods and fields minister, is the suggestion

            of the occult relation between man and the vegetable.  I am not alone and

            unacknowledged.  They nod to me, and I to them.  The waving of the boughs

            in the storm, is new to me and old.  It takes me by surprise, and yet is not

            unknown.  Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming

            over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.”


                                                   Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1836

                       



     I own three cheap low-grade video cameras -- each under $250 -- and, as is almost always the case, I rarely have one of these image making machines in-hand when photographic occasions arise.  And that is just fine with me.  Indeed, I do not own a camera-phone, or any mobile phone at all.  Nor do I hunt, stalk, bait, forage, trap or ambush to achieve some perfectly preconceived ‘nature shot’.  I never even use a tripod.  My motto: If it happens, it happens.  Because chances are even if I planned to take a photograph, I’d most likely miss everything anyway.  It’s why I prefer sitting and watching without machines.  Nature always looks better with a ‘naturalized slow-eye.’


     Truth be told, I do not like the taking of photographs at all.  I would much rather give to scenery than to take away from scenery; not to mention the fact that all photographs are lies: mis-representations.  Moreover, I think these ubiquitous forms of mechanical surveillance are graven pox-marks on our society.  For instance, I fiercely resist having my own image unreflexively captured.  Seen in this light, cameras for me are a self-imposed paradox.  So to the wild subjects herein, who have innocently wandered before my occasional lens, I beg your deepest forgiveness.  I vow to treat your spirit-likenesses sparingly, and with heartfelt honor and respect.


     In short, the wild spaces of our planet are withering before our eyes.  Opportunities for human sensorial interaction with True Nature are diminishing in direct correlation to advancing virtual experiences.  Yet plundering natural landscapes for monetary profit remains our human preference.  When will we learn?  Hark, I can hear loggers, bulldozers, hunters, snowmobilers, drunkards and developers from my window as I write this.  And so I am making this simple and personal video blog in Nature’s honor.  For Nature means as much to me as life itself.  How could it not?  As Nature dies away, so do we.


     Author Wishes:  I wish residents here, around my one acre, would come to their senses and see that every time bulldozer-blades touch the ground something priceless is lost, which is destroying the very reason we choose to live here.  I wish certain evangelical Christianists would stop perverting healthy religious concepts of “Stewardship, Dominion and Providence” into some personal righteous biblical permission from God to exploit all of Earth’s precious gifts and resources for themselves.  I wish for drastically fewer guns and fewer oil-guzzling machines.  I wish people would slow themselves down, unplug, and open their eyes.  I wish that this one acre I ‘own’ -- along with every speck of Nature living in it -- remains unfettered forever.  But in my heart I fear everything here will soon be lost to the clumsy greedy hands of Man, maybe as soon as tomorrow.  And lastly, I wish for this foreboding heaviness in my heart to find good reason to lift.  For this is my sacred church, my one  extraordinary acre.                                     

                                       

                                          


                      



     Aldo Leopold  (1948)   “What more delightful avocation than to take a piece of land and by cautious experimentation to prove how it works.  What more substantial service to conservation than to practice it on one’s own land?”  


     Henry David Thoreau  (1845)   “We need the tonic of wildness.  At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable.  We can never have enough of nature.”  


     Gifford Pinchot  (1910)   “The lumbermen regarded forest devastation as normal and second growth as a delusion of fools.  As for sustained yield, no such idea had ever entered their heads.  The few friends the forest had were spoken of, when they were spoken of at all, as impractical theorists, fanatics, or "denudatics," more or less touched in the head.  What talk there was about forest protection was no more to the average American than the buzzing of a mosquito, and just about as irritating.”


     Rachel Carson  (1962)   "Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity?  Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?"


     Ralph Waldo Emerson  (1863)  “When I bought my farm, I did not know what a bargain I had in the bluebirds, daffodils and thrushes; as little did I know what sublime mornings and sunsets I was buying.”  


     Celia Hunter  (2001) "I think what I'd like to leave with people your age is the idea that change is possible, but you're going to have to put your energy into it.  I'm past eighty and I'm not going to be the mover and shaker of this, but people like you are.  And you're going to have to bite the bullet and decide what kind of world you want to live in.”  


     John Burroughs  (1905)  "Look underfoot.  You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think.  The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive.  The great opportunity is where you are.  Don't despise your own place and hour.  Every place is the center of the world."

     Edward Abbey  (1968)  "Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.  A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself."


     John Muir  (1909)   “Little men, with only a book knowledge of science, have seized upon evolution as an escape from the idea of a God.  'Evolution!' a wonderful, mouth-filling word, isn't it?  It covers a world of ignorance.  Just say 'evolution' and you have explained every phenomenon of Nature and explained away God.  It sounds big and wise.  Evolution, they say, brought the earth through its glacial periods, caused the snow blanket to recede, and the flower carpet to follow it, raised the forests of the world, developed animal life from the jelly-fish to the thinking man. 

     But what caused evolution?  There they stick.  To my mind, it is inconceivable that a plan that has worked out, through unthinkable millions of years, without one hitch or one mistake, the development of beauty that has made every microscopic particle of matter perform its function in harmony with every other in the universe, that such a plan is the blind product of an unthinking abstraction. 

     No; somewhere, before evolution was, was an Intelligence that laid out the plan, and evolution is the process, not the origin, of the harmony.  You may call that Intelligence what you please: I cannot see why so many people object to call it God.”  


     Walter Benjamin (1938)   “We define the aura...as the unique apparition of a distance, however near it may be.  To follow with the eye —while resting on a summer afternoon— a mountain range on the horizon, or a branch that casts its shadow on the beholder, is to breathe the aura of those mountains, of that branch.


    The Gospel Of Thomas   His disciples said unto Him, "When will the kingdom come?"  And Jesus replied, "It will not come by waiting for it.  It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is.'  Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the Earth, and men do not see it."


     W.J. Beal (1876)  “I think the raising of forests trees is a promising field to demand our attention.  When these different kinds of trees are well started so people of or State will want to lean how each variety thrives, that they may plant also.  Indeed, it does not seem too soon for some farmers to be starting for profit, a plat of hickories, black walnut, and white ashes, and perhaps chestnuts, European larches, and others.”