We spoke yesterday at the pool, briefly, on how urban expansion impinges upon the land that animals know as home. We seem shocked that a red tail fox should be roaming our neighborhoods, or think it odd that there would be rabbits deep in the heart of a city.
And then we have the reality of intermittent animal attacks, and condemn, not our annexation of their natural territories, but their dangerous presence our communities. We usually kill the more dangerous of these, or throw them into captivity; some of the more docile of the creatures, like prairie dog, we simple relocate (which, we say, is usually better than the alternative- but for who I ask).
Expansionism- if ever there were a term more frightening to nature it would undoubtedly be this one. We pillage her recourses like gluttons; exploit her loveliness like careless lovers; and draw from her bosom some of the most lethal, some of the most deadliest uses we have ever known (and we fear the fox).
Later that night I happened to read, for the first time, a poem written by Emily Dickinson entitled, Who Robbed the Woods. It reminded me, though it referred to no animal, of that poolside conversation. As I read it I derived deeper meanings, but its more literal (or closely literal) aspect penetrated my heart deeply: here we have this gorgeous plant (these “woods”) and yet, rapaciously and without consideration, we exploit it; we often not only take this planet’s loveliness for granted, we misuse and destroy her natural beauty to achieve purely anthropocentric ends (and this with little regard).
Of course we need to utilize her resources to sustain life, but don’t we often take this a little too much to the extreme? Is it utterly necessary to hack down entire forests to make our lives easier? Is there not moderation? Must we achieve comfort at the expense of nature and her beauty? Must we take all this wonderment around us for granted?
Then again, have we not all done the same?
Who Robbed the Woods
Who robbed the woods,
The trusting woods?
The unsuspecting trees
Brought out their burrs and mosses
His fantasy to please.
He scanned their trinkets, curious,
He grasped, he bore away.
What will the solemn hemlock,
What will the fir-tree say?
*Painting by Randy Richmond