Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nature Photography

Human Nature Photography

Where there's a trail, there's always a Pringles can.

Then, the perfunctory gripe.

To that extent, yesterday was no exception.

And yet, yesterday, as in recent years, something of the fervor was gone. Or, more to the point, my griping lacked the drama it once had. As a teen and early tween, I was ready to respond at hair-trigger speed whenever the beast encroached upon beauty.

Simply put, lately the hell is gone. I'm novacained.

Walking past a whole nest of garbage at the trail head yesterday, I felt no theatric indignation at all. Instead, there was only a thin, dull ache, and a mental note to self that yet another processed corn product has proclaimed its flavors "Extreme."

Environmentalist Bill McKibbon has written about this dull ache before -- though to McKibbon's credit, his own is clearly sharper, deeper, and more ubiquitous than mine. To illustrate this ache, he recounts the experience that most of us have had at one time or another. Remember: you sat on a mountainside; everywhere you turned, you saw a vista unmarred by human hands; above, a hawk idled; the only sound was wind and stillness.

Wind, stillness. And the distant grumble of a chainsaw, somewhere down the valley.


However perfect and otherwise "pure" this mountainside moment may have been, however far our minds ached to drift across an untouched landscape beyond (that is, prior to) the curse of human ingenuity, there is always that faint, chuggering whine from down the valley. For McKibbon, there's hardly a place left on earth where we can escape that sound. Now that the Wise Species has marred even our climate, the Arctics themselves are dwindling safe-havens from the sound of ourselves.

Put a Pringles can up to your ear like a conch. Can you hear the motors droning?

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