Thursday, 4 September 2014

Backyard revisited

I should qualify my remarks re. the sacredness of the backyard.  I don't think that if we only loved our yards and gardens more we would then become more ecologically minded.  Instead we might just want to spray it all down with weedkiller--all in the name of love, of course.

However if we loved our yards and gardens the right way, then we might become more environmentally aware and sensitive.  My thinking on this is informed by William Cronon's well-known essay "The Trouble with Wilderness," in which Cronon argues that one of the problems that wilderness poses is that we tend to denigrate the nature around us (like, say, weeds growing in a vacant lot) in favour of what we perceive to be pristine, unspoiled and largely untouched distant wilderness regions.  Cronon points out that we often do terrible environmental damage close to home simply because we don't value the nature close to home--nature that might also be called wild.  After all, are sparrows or dandelions any less wild than grizzly bears or sequoias?

It seems to me that an appreciation for those weeds, for the scrubby greenery blooming in that so-called vacant lot - or for the birchtree in the yard or for the moss growing along the fence - might just give us a greater appreciation for the sometimes subtle but always powerful workings of nature. 


For more on this: here's a link to my poem "Slow Life."

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