hand_forest_forgetting - 134 Unmanaged Landscapes Voices...

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134 Unmanaged Landscapes Voices for Untamed Nature that world of men easier to deal with. E.B. White, in one of his last essays, written from his saltwater farm near Mt. Desert in Maine, said that "with so much disturbing our lives and clouding our future . .. it is hard to foretell what is going to happen." But, he continued, "I know one thing that has happened: the willow by the brook has slipped into her yellow dress, lending, along with the faded pink of the snow fence, a spot of color to the vast gray-and-white world. I know, too, that on some not too distant night, somewhere in pond or ditch or low place, a frog will awake, raise his voice in praise, and be joined by others. I will feel a whole lot better when I hear the frogs." There may still be frogs-there may be more frogs, for all I know-but they will be messengers not from another world, whose permanence and routine can comfort us, but from a world that is of our own making, as surely as Manhattan is of our own making. And while Manhattan has many virtues, I have never heard any-one say that its sounds make you feel certain that the world, and you in it, are safe. Anyway, I don't think that this separation was an inevitable divorce, the genetically programmed growth of a child. I think it was a mistake, and that consciously or unconsciously many of us realize it was a mistake, and that this adds to the sadness. Many have fought to keep this day from coming to pass-fought local battles, it is true, perhaps without realizing exactly what was at stake, but still understand-ing that the independent world of nature was gravely threatened. By the late 1960s an "environmental consciousness" had emerged, and in the 1970s and 1980s real progress was being made: air pollution in many cities had been reduced, and wilderness set aside, and Erie, the dead lake, that symbol of ultimate degradation, rescued from the grave. So there is the sadness of losing something we've begun to fight for, and the added sadness, or shame, of realizing how much more we could have dO'1e-a sadness that shades into self-loathing. We, all of us in the First World, have participated in something of a binge, a half century of unbelievable prosperity and ease. We may have had some intuition that it was a binge and the earth couldn't support it, but aside from the easy things (biodegradable detergent, slightly smaller cars) we didn't do much. We didn't turn our lives around to prevent it. Our sadness is almost an aesthetic response-appropriate because we have marred a great, mad, profligate work of art, taken a hammer to the most perfectly proportioned of sculptures. Part Two i\I; Wildness and Human Society "The Forest of Forgetting" Guy Hand 135 When I first set eyes on the Highlands of Scotland only the sky seemed alive, animated by the brooding advance of storms. Through the mist I could find nothing else to focus on, not a house or a fence or a tree-just the rise and fall of vacant land. Rain collected in rivulets. It tumbled like tears from bare stone. At that moment I would have sworn it was the sad-dest place on earth.

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