Humans are constantly waging war against enemies on many fronts. One of our longest running battles is that which we have been fighting against nature. We are forever asserting our dominance over the earth and as a consequence natural areas are being lost forever. We build highways, raise buildings, connect bridges and construct grand infrastructure networks. We do all manner of things which are considered amazing feats of humanity. For all our efforts our enemy, who is ill equipped to compete with such an aggressive onslaught, is left scarred, torn and savaged.
‘I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil. To regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.’ Henry David Thoreau
We cut down trees to improve our view, we pour bitumen to ensure a smoother journey and we dam rivers to provide ourselves with water. With each layer we add and barrier we raise, we take ourselves further out of the natural equation. At every opportunity we try to separate ourselves from the natural world, causing us to lose our connection with the land and the sea.
We insist on working hard at meaningless things, spending more and more time hidden away in our artificial lairs. Sure there are those amongst us who still appreciate natural areas and who do their best to preserve and protect as many pockets of wildness as they can. But how sad that this is necessary. There should be a common understanding that we are part of nature, not a species existing separately from it.
We have caused ourselves to lose touch and become out of sync with natural cycles and rhythms. We ignore seasonal limits to the growth of fruit and vegetables, instead manufacturing conditions to ensure that we always get what we want when we want. We abuse the land by continuing to support industries which are not sustainable, ignoring the hard evidence which shows we will cause permanent damage if we continue. We are a world of instant gratification, yet we are unprepared to take into account the long-term costs of this short-term pleasure. It is always someone else’s problem.
While nature is often powerless to stop human progress, from time to time spies from their camp manage to infiltrate the ‘human’ world of concrete and steel. Finding these signs of life in unexpected places brings me a great deal of happiness. I actively seek such sights out and when discovered, I can’t help but smile. At these times I am reminded of the words uttered by Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park), ‘I’m simply saying that life…finds a way’.
Stop and take a look around you as you go about your daily travels, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. I’ve seen trees growing out from the walls of buildings, birds nesting on the top of light poles, predators hunting for food amongst city streets and unintended flowers spring up amongst the grass on roadside nature strips.
Please be careful not to draw too much attention to these spies, for if the commanders of our army find out that they exist among us; they may take brutal action and another connection between the natural world and us will be lost.