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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
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 ...land...evokes 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
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
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?