Observing Nature close up
I share my conservatory/office with a number of biota – plant and animal life, in this smallish 2mx6m rectangle. Just behind and above my head where I stand at my computer in the corner crevice where house meets conservatory lives a long legged spider (to be identified) and we live in fairly good harmony allowing each other to get on with our busy lives with a silent agreement not to impede or impose on our respective territories. However today my neighbourly disposition was tested to the full.
A high whine was coming from its corner and I entered the room and located the source of this malevolent high pitched assault and realised a wasp/bee was in its death throes caught in the corner web. Well both species have been around for 100 million years give or take a few, so who was I, a mere human, to interfere in an argument that goes back at least 98 million years before my species’ humble beginnings? I count myself as an empath to others pain yet I can still watch Attenborough’s sometimes gruesome visual explanation of how the web of life works from plankton up the chain. So did I interfere?
Now here’s the thought that amplified to another and another leading to questions I am laying out here. Where and when do humans intervene in natures cycle and are we stewards of that cycle or have we pushed ourselves over that stewardship into unfeeling, over-arching Masters of the Universe? Is there a middle ground?
Presently, I am in the middle of transforming a tiered (and tired) garden full of overgrown hydrangea, ceanothus, arum lily and much more which itself is beautiful, although too non-native for my liking which has been left for 8 years+. I’ve spent weeks stripping it back, leaving pockets and in the end playing Master of the Universe. Regimented oblong raised veg beds have been inserted in the now cleared and sifted soil that hasn’t seen the light of day for many a year and is now in expectation of seeds while I conduct and compose the rebirth of the gardens destiny. It is a modern chapter of its new owners vision and thereby a changing of the guard of its flora and fauna.
I do love quaking grass (Briza maxima) and have also seen it in other countries. To find it squeezing through the front gardens’ gravel was as unexpected as it was welcome. So once again I played Master of the Universe and transplanted some of it into three pots and it now graces my ever changing vision of the veg patch garden. Quaking grass is mesmerizing and reflects my love of nature doing what it does best. Sit and watch it shimmer in the faintest of breezes, each head balanced expertly by mother nature – I think of those amazing people who build stones into a mis-shapen tower that shouldn’t work – the beautiful incredulous balance of nature.
So, slowly, what am I doing to this plot 8m x 8m? There is a lot of talk in conservation circles about rewilding, which if I am correct is letting Nature take its natural course and let what grows grow, in any particular habitat, without human intervention. Well that was what my garden was doing before I came along. The questions above draw together and create a discourse of its own and further demands questions like:-
Should I feel guilty about dictating this intervention? Is my desire for growing food compatible with the directive of Nature, to do what it does and has done for millenia? Also, by making room for companion planting and encouraging the insects that are crashing globally in numbers, am I wasting my time in the long run? Well I hope I have a long time to go to investigate these questions. Meanwhile I will let you look at the beauty of quaking grass and maybe it will inspire an answer to these musings.
Oh, and did I interfere with the spider/wasp battle? Well in the past 24 hours I have stopped what I am doing and shepherded lost bees and wasps out of the conservatory, as all they were, were lost and needed a helping hand. So, no, not this time as it was already in the spiders packed lunch cocoon of silk. In footballing parlance it was a consolation goal in the final scoreline wasps/bees 4, spiders 1.