Wednesday, June 12, 2013

OT: Nature and Wilderness

This is a bit off topic but I feel as though it is related.  There is a growing body of literature out there about the state of nature and wilderness in our modern world.  Although the word growing conjures images of new and exciting writing, I want to be clear that this is no new body of literature.  Thoreau and the other Transcendentalists often wrote about the state of nature and wilderness with the former being the standard bearer for the subject.  Thoreau, in Walden, wants to reconnect to nature, or at least a more pure idea of nature to try and better himself.  He was angry and disappointed at the avenues and trends he saw in his times.  War, technology, and separation from nature troubled Thoreau and he went into the woods for that reason.  He wanted to push people away from the complacency of the modern world and to find deeper connections.  Human connectivity to nature and each other drove his work.

Tim Bowling's work, The Lost Coast, offers an autobiography, or at least a partially autobiography, of his relationships with the Fraser River.  I say relationships because in part he connects the distant past, his family's past, and his own life, to the Fraser River and its changing environment.  Specifically, the life cycle and struggles of the Salmon of the Fraser River.  The life cycle of the river and the salmon have powered the lives of millions and Bowling saw the results of overfishing and the belief that humans can manage the environment better.  Bowling links the expansion of fishing to the expansion of our consumerist culture and increasing de-connectivity with nature to explore and share the pains and struggles of the Fraser River.

There is a loss of culture and nature that is evident in Bowling's Work.  The death and rebirth of the salmon is one of hope.  The Native Nations of BC saw the power of the Salmon as miraculous.  Their cycle of death and life is much like the mythical phoenix, except on an impressive scale.  In the end, it is the Salmon that can empower and ensure the future of the Fraser River.  Yet, disease and faults of the farmed Salmon can endanger this cycle.  Humans have impact lots of other parts of nature.  Yet the failures we have seen and will continue to see may not be a lack of understanding of the complex life of salmon, but rather, a failure to trust nature and our role as a part of nature.  We have a tremendous and significant role to play as part of nature and I hope to focus some of my summer reading on this theme and the idea of how I, as a birder, am part of this cycle and nature.

(c) Nightwood Editions and Tim Bowling

Link to the Publisher's Page - Click Here
Link to the Author's Page - Click Here

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