The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Need of Wildness

Zealous parents raising the children

I spent last week working in China, and although one can see plenty of trees in modern Chinese metropolis like Shanghai it is very hard to accept them as natural, and even harder to associate them with being wild. Those trees form man-made parks, and the wildest creatures that I saw during last week were a sparrow and a magpie, defiant symbols against absolute compliance.

Upon arriving back in Michigan my wife and I drove from Detroit to Traverse City, and yesterday night down to Novi, and in these few days I was able to, at least partially, satiate my need of wildness.

On the road between Kalkaska and Traverse City my wife had to vigorously brake my truck in order to avoid taking "on the wing" a big tom turkey that flew across the road. He glided to the nearby woods like a pterodactyl, and after landing calmly strolled away. We were so close that i could see in detail his coppery breast feathers.

While at our home we could see and hear birds galore, cardinals, cow birds, woodpeckers, crows, seagulls, sand plovers, mallards, and my personal favorites for the wild music they bring to our ears, Canada geese and loons. Of course there were also the neighborhood rabbits and squirrels, for my desperation of those trying to keep tame flowers.

We stayed Sunday afternoon until the sun was about to set over the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay and behing the Leelanau Peninsula. And the drive home was really exciting. All the way on M-72 and on I-75 down to West Branch we saw countless whitetail deer. It was almost as if the whole Northern Lower Peninsula deer herd decided to have a great spring celebration under cloudless skies. We estimate that yesterday night we saw between two and three hundred deer.

And the final celebration of spring came this noon when I went out for lunch at Alexandria, a great Middle-Eastern restaurant in Novi. We have been observing a goose nest for some time. Of all "wild" places around the suburbs, this couple chose a barrel just besides the restaurant. Mother goose sitting on and in the barrel, and father goose guarding the perimeter  Today we were able to finally see their rewards, as their goslings (I could count six of them) were enjoying the warm spring sun by their mother, while the always vigilant father came to investigate my business.

I understand that wildness is not wilderness, but at least around here our expanding wildlife (please, read "Nature Wars" by Jim Sterba) help maintain an ideal of having nature nearby. As Aldo Leopold said "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

So, at least for now, I believe that Michigan is righter than the parts that I know of China.


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