I am an avid reader of classic nature writers like Sigurd Olson, Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and John Muir. Their works influenced my relationship with and view towards the natural environment. Even today, I find myself coming back to these writers for the vicarious dose of nature that I sometimes find myself missing living in a City, and to remind myself of why I chose to live where I do. I have my own listening point, that is probably numerous other people’s listening points. In today’s world, we can hardly all own our own swath of solitude and green.
I recently read Crow Planet, by Seattle author Lyanda Lynn Haupt. In her book, she observes the crow in her suburban Seattle neighborhood, and appreciates the bird for what it is; part of the natural world, and part of the urban wilderness. She writes through the lens of an urban naturalist of sorts, noting how the crows recognize faces, care for one another, even play, and how they, like humans, have found a place in an urban setting. What is refreshing about Haupt’s book to me is that it made me see all of the elements of the natural environment that are around us in a city, a place that supposedly people go to to escape from nature. And how they co-exist without being planned, engineered, or incentivized. There are weeds in the sidewalks, birds on telephone wires, even the occasional deer. And in cities like Seattle and Bellingham we even have Salmon! running through our cities (although these are the products of day lighting/stream restoration programs…essentially incentivizing un-doing the work of humans). I suppose that some could argue that the truly “natural nature” that exists in our cities is largely undesirable. But, since finishing Haupt’s book, I have opened my eyes a little more to the world around me and realized that you don’t necessarily need to get in your car and trek to Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Park, or even Discovery Park, or re-read “Thinking Like a Mountain” to get your daily dose of nature, a fact I sometimes forget.