Sunday, January 27, 2013

Imagining Nature

imagining nature, cultural value of species, environmental activism, environmental imagination, kids and the environment

I recently wrote about the cultural values of species. Here's a slightly different take on the same thing. In this month's issue of Brevity, Brian Doyle writes a piece called "Imagining Foxes" in which he remembers going for a walk deep into the woods with his siblings as children. They try to hear the sounds of cars and traffic in the distance but they are so deep in the woods that they can no longer hear these man-made sounds. Doyle recounts the animals that they saw, and much as they wished to see a fox, they did not. But the woods were so alive with creatures that he imagines they smelled the fox with his "scent of old blood and new honey, and we heard his sharp cough and bark, and if you looked just right you could see his wry paw prints in the dust by his den". By the sound of the essay, this memory is 30 or 40 years old but because of the vibrancy of the woods, it still lives in his mind. Doyle goes on to say:
"[I]f we never take our kids to the little strips of forests, the tiny shards of beaches, the ragged forgotten corner thickets with beer bottles glinting in the duff, they’ll never even imagine a fox, and what kind of world is that, where kids don’t imagine foxes? We spend so much time mourning and battling for a world where kids can see foxes that we forget you don’t have to see foxes. You have to imagine them, though. If you stop imagining them then they are all dead, and what kind of world is that, where all the foxes are dead?"
What kind of world, indeed?  Read Brian Doyle's complete essay here.

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