I think chimpanzees are like that about the bounty of nature, and I see nothing wrong with it. Sometimes life is all about us and what we do and what we make, and sometimes it's about the natural world and all its wonders. I think most chimpanzees are opportunists when it comes to exploiting their habitat. The conservationists are doing us a disservice when they try to paint them as noble savages at one with nature. In order to appreciate nature, we have to look at it through our own eyes and see what it has to offer to us personally.
Most of the flowers I see, I have no names for. Take, for instance, these yellow puffs that grow on the shrubs or small trees along the fence-line: Last year I did not even recognize them as flowers. But this year I looked close up, and I noticed that they consisted of tiny little individual blossoms clustered together into a ball of fluff.
Some people say that society is everything, and some say that the individual is primary. But it's not really a question of either/or. It depends very much on your point of view, and what you are concerned about at the time. Are you studying the big puffs of fluff or the individual blossoms? What magnification are you using? What is the scale of your canvas?
|Weigela buds yesterday|
These are budding Weigela blossoms. I learned their name a couple of years ago. When they are in full blossom, they will look like this:
|Blooming Weigela from 2013|
Each little bloom is just like its sisters, only a little bit different And each will compete for the attention of suitors. They have some interests in common, but they also have competing interests.
In my orchard yesterday, a single bee was found enjoying a pear blossom. While this was going on, the other pear blossoms in the cluster waited patiently for their chance. Would some be overlooked? Could their beauty go to waste? Does every flower get a bee?
Even the smallest flowers underfoot have story to tell, full of drama and conflict and individual differences. When the conservationists speak of balance, they forget that balance implies conflicting forces at play. Just like peace, balance is a fragile equilibrium. You do not achieve it by disarming one side of the conflict.
|Open Redbud blooms|
I was brought up thinking that it was wrong to pick wildflowers. In Israel, there used to be many anemones -- beautiful red flowers that people picked freely until there were practically none. I was told it is better to just look at wild flowers and appreciate them than to pick them. In Texas, also, I was cautioned not to pick the bluebonnets. This socialization about flowers that I received made me resent the flowers. It was as if the flowers were teases -- coming on strong with their beauty -- but complaining if you touched them. Don't pick the flowers. Don't walk on the grass. Preserve nature!
But what if nature was meant to be sampled? What if beauty was meant to be experienced by all the senses?
What if it is not exploitation but the deepest possible appreciation that makes us want to touch and smell and even taste the blossoms?
If there are too many people and not enough flowers, then to preserve the flowers you have to rein in the people. But no primate actually enjoys feeling less important than a flower. It is better when there are fewer primates and more flowers.
This is my land, so I can decide whether to pick the flowers or not. And that is another reason why territory is more important than labor! In the city, flowers represent human labor and must be paid for in cold cash. But out here in the country flowers are just a joyful windfall that can be exploited without guilt.