A retired naturalist reflects on his own life, life in general, and the relationship between mankind and the land.
In this “tossed salad of vignettes and essays,” Weeden (Messages from Earth, 1992, etc.) writes lyrically of his past as a biologist in Alaska’s wild interior and of his present as a gentleman farmer on Salt Spring Island off the coast of British Columbia. He rounds out the collection with a plan for nature’s—and humanity’s—future, in which he sees a looming environmental catastrophe. He mainly attributes this coming cataclysm to modernity and its out-of-control economic development, surging human population growth and the populace’s “media-suffocated mind,” bereft of a sense of place or attachment to the land. In these essays, he immerses readers in nature’s power and beauty. He also offers a prescription for saving the future, which he says will require a radical reduction of the human population and a bioregionalism that would shift global and national political power to local control. This beautifully written book works on many levels: as an enjoyable nature read; as an elegy to what humans have destroyed; as an homage to works of art and natural history both famous and obscure, from the essays of Aldo Leopold and Wendell Berry to the musical compositions of Philip Glass and Ferde Grofé; and as an antidote to the ecological poisons endangering humanity. Unlike some nature writers, Weeden writes with facility and wry humor. “A lot of people find geese pushy, and I suspect the reverse is true, too,” he writes, also noting that a pair of donkeys are “loud at one end and irrepressible at the other.” After he declares that “the duty of every inquirer is to uncover more questions than answers,” he achieves that goal in this book, raising crucial questions and sharing real wisdom about the real world.
A thoughtful and thought-provoking account of mankind’s uneasy relationship with nature.