Spending time in the woods reminds you that a real world exists out there, outside of the virtual world of fire-light shadows that we create for ourselves (and each other).
I say this not, I hasten to add, to denigrate the human-built world (I’m a city boy, after all), but merely to put it in its place.
It’s sad that most of the kids I meet in Montreal can tell me the names of ten dinosaurs OR ten animals from the African savanna OR ten marine mammals BUT they can’t name ten Montreal animals. This tells me that their boilerplate globalized knowledge of “nature” comes from mass-market children’s books and mass-market documentaries produced by corporations based in New York and London.
Their knowledge of nature ought to come from an intimate connection with the world immediately around them, with the plants and animals and people who share this island with them. Besides, the kind of knowledge of “nature” that one gets from BBC documentaries and full-color books is pernicious, as it reinforces the belief that nature is something over there, away from civilization, on a nice family trip to the “country place” or a little eco-tourism in Costa Rica.
Aristotle was right: a human being divorced from political life isn’t fully human. But a person divorced from nature is something far worse.
Perhaps a monster.
—John Faithful Hamer, From Here (2015)
Photo courtesy of the author