This month I want to set down my thoughts regarding that twilight zone where man-made construction ends and nature’s work begins. The meeting that takes place is comprised of two very different worlds: man’s rational construction, value systems, and treatment of the land versus nature’s unemotional life struggle in light of the circumstances at hand.
Unilaterally there is an on-going struggle for real estate sandwiched between these two combatants. Man controls the situation by engaging in constant maintenance to keep his vision intact and the uninvited at bay as long as he can, but nature is relentless and eternally persistent. This nether world is inevitably a combination of give and take and of segregation and integration. Even the most substantial walls cannot keep out the likes of birds, flying insects, and seeds blowing in the wind so there is always some kind of merger and the question is how much and what kind. Because our cultural perspective is so divergent from the workings of nature we tend to see the inevitable clashes as problems (rather than just natural processes working themselves out). My moral preference has me wanting to intrude only so much as is required to assure “a fair fight.”…and then let nature take its course.
There is deserved concern about the effects on native plant and animal species, as well as their often resulting extinction brought about by man’s introduction (both deliberate and accidental) of non-native life forms. Man’s pet cats ravage a host of small animal species and nature’s rodents and insects ravage a host of cultivars and her predators stalk the cats and man “controls” the predators. Examples like this are endless and it seems irresponsible when man introduces incompatible elements into the larger ecosystem and then has to work continually to maintain a particular look. Mother Nature does not think too much about looks.
The metaphorical sidewalk almost never ends – it continues to spread into the natural landscape at an alarming rate with no end in sight. If a landscape is not compatible with, or at least considerate towards, the ecosystem that preceded it, then I think we are not thinking and feeling deeply enough. An outstanding principle regarding where the sidewalk ends is that of preserving continuity as much as we can. Without continuity there is separation, isolation, and a questionable future. If we want to allow English ivy and pussy cats to run loose in the wild then we should also accept visitors from the meadows and forests onto our property. Allowing gophers and gopher snakes might be a good start ̶ It’s only a matter of one’s point of view. But no matter how you see it “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” is not just for Sundays.