Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The natural world around us

My husband took this picture yesterday and knew it would interest me. Juxtaposition between the natural and the constructed world fascinate me. We are both part of and apart from that natural world and this photo embodies that contradiction. I spent part of today walking the nature trails at a local Audubon wildlife sanctuary with my children. It is ironic that humans are both the destroyers of the natural world as well as its conservators.

We spent quite some time peering at the edge of a vernal pool looking for tadpoles. We didn't see any, but had a very sophisticated conversation about the importance of open space, vernal pools, and the sensitivity of frogs and salamanders to environmental pollutants. I am proud of my children's engagement in nature and conservation. At 10 and nearly 13, they are concerned about trash, pollution, and animal habitat. They see a connection between the choices they make (walk to school vs drive, recycle/reuse vs throw away, home made vs processed foods) and the consequences for the world.

I worry about the world they stand to inherit. Will we reach a tipping point in global warming that will erase coastlines and turn farmland into desert? How many species will our shortsighted actions condemn to extinction and what will it take to cause a devistating chain reaction in our ecosystem? I know that the earth has moved through natural cycles of temperature fluctuation. The earth will find its balance between extremes--it has happened before, it will happen again. But in the geologic past, we weren't here.

It's humbling--the earth doesn't care about us. In my most cynical times, I think that perhaps if we/humans weren't here, the earth would be better off. But then I see my kids trying to find their place in the universe and I hope. I hope.


  1. That's an absolutally wonderful picture. Thank you.

  2. Thank you! We also had a juvenile red tail in our yard for about a week last spring. He was a beautiful creature, full of menace and grace.

  3. Take heart, Mother Earth will survive us--it is we who must adapt to her changes and endure. We were blessed recently with a fox den in the field behind our home. The parents raised four handsome kits here between two major highways. Every day we worry about their fate as the land is zoned for another housing development. While we have no control over the behavior of others, we are each responsible for our individual ecological footprints: http://www.earthday.net/footprint/index.asp

    BTW, I love your dragonfly background!
    B. Tsao