We live in a society where lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride have been commercialized. When the self and its desires are everywhere celebrated, to contain the self is a form of revolt. There begins the path. There begins the search for the eternal things. The first step is to rediscover renunciation. “What does it mean?” Kingsnorth asks, “and how do you do it?” These questions are not glitzy; they are not click-bait.
I’d always wondered what woodland flowers had to do with morels and fishing. I’d also marveled about how robins knew when to return north or questioned why certain mayfly imitations work better than others during the opening weekend of trout season. What did one have to do with the other?
There is a significant difference between staring at a computer screen and seeing the world through a porch screen. Hailey emphasizes the benefits of seeing from the “threshold between stability and precariousness,” which is nothing like viewing the world from the comfort of a couch in an air-conditioned room, even if the porch is also comfortable.
Perhaps this, above all, is the work of nature writing: to bring the wild and the domestic together and to reveal the mystery at the heart of both. That Springer’s book consistently does this is enough to commend it as a constructive entry in this vexed genre.
“Now nature makes nothing incomplete, and nothing in vain…” Aristotle, Politics Sometimes we might wonder about Aristotle. Was he observing the same world we are? One...
Our dwelling place is the state not of nature but of culture.
But, as Shakespeare wrote, we sometimes “by indirections find directions out.”