Angus Pratt's Home  >  Creative  >  Writing  >  Introducing my Book

Man's voice

We sit on the earth but a brief moment
fifty generations
maybe more maybe less
Our ancestors
inhabit the trees around us
we don't call them spirits
we understand they are just atoms
but there are memories
and across the age
I breathed this air
and now you breath it
does it carry a message
different from the one on this page
or that vibrations of air
carry to your ear
what is that rhythm
who goes there
and what do you say?

I am fascinated by this world around me.  I find in it the tracings of the creators hand..There is this sense though that deep within us there is an affinity.  This is the world that we live in.

Yesterday we were sitting in the sun.  Enjoying the first warm rays of summer seeping into our bones.  The sun was high in the sky and warm oh so warm. The chills of winter and spring are chased away, till we finally had to move into the shade.  Far out on the lake we could see the muskrat pushups coming up through the rotten ice. Soaring overhead a mere speck in the sky was the eagle.  Paddling along the waters edge in the two feet of open water, between ice and shore was the brilliant green head of a male mallard duck.  Then a nuthatch just over our seat on the rock flits through the pine trees.

My gaze is drawn to the pine bark and there I see unmistakable signs of an insect infestation. The tree has swollen, much the way we do when we are cut.  Trying to protect ourselves, so it tries to protect itself.  The buds aren't out on the trees yet. But a couple of warm days like this and they too will swell and burst with the rites of spring.

And there, there goes the pesky mosquito.  The "little black fly" hums its miscellaneous way through my brain.  I know that I love this park and admire the delicate balance of its ecology but I dispatch that mosquito knowing that three or four generations, perhaps several million mosquitos have been dispatched.  There is the example.  I can kill one mosquito and have this profound effect on the ecology without altering the balance here.  If I were to conduct a campaign to eradicate all the mosquitoes (arrogant to think that I could be that efficient and kill only mosquitoes) then I would really affect this ecology.  I would be reaching in taking a major piece of the machinery and really messing with it.

Oh you say people don't do that.  A few words for you.  Spruce. Bud.  Worm.  We in our arrogance think we can go in and kill the spruce budworm.  Not anything else.  But taking this piece of the puzzle and going home with it takes it out of the system.  We may actually be that good.  but the other parts of the system depend on this part.  The system is interwoven.  We take away the worms.  And the bird populations change. I speak here in generalities. What birds and
how do they change other things.  I would like to explore the specifics for this piece of the forest. I would like to be so familiar with this wilderness that I become a part of its ecology.  My part being to explain to all the other humans that come here how delicate this system is.

These then are the questions that move me to understand the forest that I live in.  To capture the knowledge here and to answer these great questions.

Armchair travellers, surrounded by asphalt, knowing there is more to the world and want desperately to experience it.  They find themselves surrounded by information and misinformation. The majority don't have the time to get through it,  to make sense of it, and  feel slowly overwhelmed by it.  I want to lift my audience.  I want to capture them, to draw them into my world and show them the creators hand there.

The line has been scratched in the forest.  We live here.  We love here.  We raise our families here.  We are  in and on this ecosystem.  We trade our resources gladly with the world.  Know this, that one of our resources is the forest.  And we will see this resource here in perpetuity.  As long as the water flows and the sun rises. Why is this forest here.  What makes it grow this way?  Understanding these trends first seems to be simple and yet it is not.  It is perhaps the deepest mystery of all.  The forces of water.  The land.  This simple word images of earth and then of spirit.

I am not here to take this land from you.  I am not here to profoundly alter its face.  I wish simply to be in harmony with it.  I want to know that my life here was not the one that changed it.  I want to be able to swat mosquitoes  not effect change at a deep level.

Man, and I am a man, is greedy.  We want a life of ease and leisure.  We want to fulfill our growing.  Procreation.  I have made three where I came from two.  The cycle of human reproduction slows, though I wonder is it too late.

Are we like lemmings plunging to the sea?  Driven by instincts from the creator?  Driving for the killing sea.  I see around me a world in harmony.  A world that reflects your creative hand and your pleasure.  Do we seek in understanding the great cataclysms, reassurance for our behaviour? We see thinking behaviour on the part of an animal, and it stuns us.  Yet in our arrogance, in our push to success I know that we think of ourselves as better and as having the right. Why is this... We can envision?  Is that what makes us different?  It is hard to imagine a tree thinking in five
generations I can colonize that area.  Yet a fox can visualise that this might be an area in which it will find mice.

This brings me to my second point.  Somewhere between my miscellaneous swatting of one tiny fly and trying to eradicate the whole population lies a place I can live with.  The single mosquito later in the summer will be ignored.  When there are hordes of bugs, swatting one will make no difference to the annoyance factor.  If I want to get rid of them I smear on repellent.  I should be clear I am not affected by death of a bug. Beyond this death lies the balance.  The swinging of cycles each blending with the other.  Driven not by cycles of succession and climax as many
southern forests are but by survival.  By sheer determination.  If you as a plant or an animal can figure out a way to live here then you can.  Nobody is going to fight you for that spot in the sun.

Live and let live.  The forest here is not driven by the great drive of competition but by the cycles of vast and intense disturbances on the landscape.   Great swathes of this land are lost to fire each year and ice becomes the great leveller. Fire and Ice.

Even our language here is misleading.  We speak of disturbance and loss as if in these events are evil, wrong.  They are not.  They are simply events that move across our vast landscape.  So when we come to harvest trees for example we can speak of the desire to emulate fire without conjuring evil.  Vast tracts of burn are compared with vast tracts of forest cut over.  Are there differences?

You bet.  For us the question is... Are they close enough to the fire kind of balance in the most important ways to conserve the balance of the system or do they modify it somehow. What happens to the biodiversity of natural seeding if it is  replanted? Even in this mantra of reforestation there is danger. Can the animals and plants survive a third great force... mankind?