Thursday, April 18, 2013

What kind of springtime bud are you?

The first thing I noticed was the beautiful sharp shadow of the tree on the street. Late afternoon sun, no haze. Then I saw the two different sproutings from the tree. Now I am in, I will snap! I move closer, but my own sharp shadow obtrudes. I'll have to consider it a feature, not a bug. And then the camera makes that fake shutter-sound, so you'll know you took a picture in these days when there isn't really a shutter. Maybe I have  that wrong. If I were a sketch artist, I could leave out the ugly horizontal branch and the big white building, but I catch them, too.
The big hole in my formal education was any kind of training in natural history. After Eugene Van Vranken's 10th grade Biology, not a thing! (If you haven't thanked your best high school teacher, and they still live, DO IT NOW!) I never remember not being interested in the natural world, even though I spent all my spare time reading, preferably while lying down. Through the magic of Kindle, I am now in the middle of a book recommended at a recent  Camera Club of Eagle lecture on slowing down to improve our photographs. The book is called World Enough and Time. In a certain section, the author talks a lot about Gene Stratton Porter, the naturalist, photographer, and author of Girl of the Limberlost and many other books. Holy Cow! That was my favorite novel for maybe six or eight years before I went away to college! I never knew she was a photographer! I had forgotten about Elnora's moths and the Limberlost! Now through the magic of Amazon Used Books, I am in the middle of Coming Through the Swamp; the nature writings of Gene Stratton Porter, which have been thoughtfully assembled for just this need by Sydney Landon Plum. Thanks, Sid! Perhaps the roots of my interest are here? I do remember that my parents, both raised in Arizona, were not especially knowledgeable about our natural world near Scotia, New York! I could go on and on, but instead, here is your text for the night, which was first published in Good Housekeeping in October, 1924. Later it appeared in her collection, Tales You Wouldn't Believe. It concerns the draining of the Limberlost Swamp which was part of a "reclamation" project.

"Drying up the springs, drying up the streams and lowering the lake meant to kill the great trees that had flourished since the beginning of time around the borders of the lakes, meant to kill the vines and shrubs and bushes, the fersn and the iris and the water hyacinths, the arrowhead lilies and the rosemary and the orchids, and it meant, too, that men were madly and recklessly doing an insane thing without really understanding what they were doing, They had forgotten that where there is no moisture to arise and mass in rain clouds and fall back upon the earth, to be scattered in rain, no rain comes. They had forgotten that draining the water from all these acres of swamp land would dry and heat the air they were to breathe to an almost unendurable degree during summer. They had not studied the question scientifically and figured out for themselves how much rainfall they could take from their crops. Not one of them had take n a spadeful of soil. water soaked for ages, and had its properties examined for humus and growing qualities. They did not know as I did that the soil they are eagerly proposing to drain would take centuries to become fit for growing crops because for centuries it has been water soaked until there was not an element in it that would make anything grow unless it were accustomed to growing in water."  (page xxi)

This was written nearly 90 years ago! It is enough to make me despair!
I'll have something shorter, more interesting and even sort of mysterious for you tomorrow. And so to bed. . .
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1 comment:

  1. Robert has just begun at my own high school. It is a small but significant disappointment that one of the best teachers of my life will retire at the end of this year, just before he could take chemistry from her.

    On the bright side, not only have I had the chance to recently thank her, but they are renaming the science wing in her honor. Robert is also doing theater on a stage named for my great-hearted theater teacher, who has long since left us.