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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Canadian Gothic

Title:  Maple Sugar Ready For Eating
Hand painted postcard photo taken by Reuben R. Sallows

Living in harmony with nature. 

Through my work, and throughout my life it has been my privilege to meet and know many of the province's  outstanding conservationists, naturalists and scientists, watchers, keepers of organisms with both greater and lesser station.  At the age of eight when I started out in the 1960s, it was difficult to get good resource books living in Wolfville, even on conspicuous beasts like birds.  Such books were certainly not of high information or visual quality, nor did they command the interest of the buying public like they do today.  But then - such was the state of what was known and accessible in the absence of digital technology. 

Most birders that I grew up with and certainly my best mentors, had like me necessarily, in the absence of good books, cut their teeth watching birds, listening to birds, shooting birds, stuffing birds, finding bird nests and spent a lot more time in the field than all but the most dedicated birders of today.  "Seeing" was different back then and accordingly the information valued was also not the same.  In the 1960's and 1970s, outstanding optical equipment to observe birds was not available like it is now.  Without the micro view through exceptional binoculars, birds had to become bigger fixtures of geographic reference, anchored more as living, vital players to their environment for the viewer, performers in a theatre of order, complex beasts, in a mosaic of habitats with functional points in plant communities, constituents with the same vital, specific, identifiable roles - as familiar perhaps, as the people immersed, anchored to the architecture of their town, the rich soils, forested mountains to the north and south, the Minas Basin and the Bay of Fundy.  Living in harmony with the land and sea.

1 comment:

  1. Very eloquent Mark; it reminds me of my father, and his father before him, being very connected to the land, to the phases of the moon, to the weather - not relying on a forecast website, but rather on a barometer reading, and moreso on two feet that walked the fields and orchards every day. This was a far more intimate knowledge than I have, borne out of necessity, if not hardship, as depicted in the postcard. We're more comfortable, to be sure, but we've lost something valuable along the way.