Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mother nature

Earlier in the week, Norm couldn’t resist taking a pop at another Madeleine Bunting column, this time exhorting us to be at one with nature. In Monday’s Guardian Maddy sighed that,

We need that attentiveness to nature to understand our humanity, and of how we fit, as just one species, into a vast reach of time and space.

She went on, with a characteristic sideswipe at the hoi polloi, to eulogise,

… an aesthetic case for the spectacular beauty that lies beyond their windscreen if they can be bothered to stop the car and get out.

Here in deepest rural Greece I am in profound personal contact with nature and what that means is that a large amount of time and energy needs to be spent in killing it.

One year it was the ants that had nested in the inside walls, filling the house with flying ants. Last year there was the flea infestation, brought on by either some wild animals or Iannis’ sheep. Every time I come there are wasps’ nests to destroy; they love the space behind the window shutters. This year has been the year of the rat. How I tried to persuade myself that the scuttling in the roof space was a lizard and then that it was only mice. However, as an unmistakable grey shape dashed across the open beams in the living room I had to admit what I knew all along. The poison was acquired, laid and devoured. Tonight all seems quiet; hopefully the rat is no more.

So, with all the ant powder, flea spray and rat poison, my particular ‘attentiveness to nature’ has taught me to understand the uses of chemical warfare.


Anonymous said...

This sounds familiar!!!
I have never been able to work out the raison d'etre for any parasite!!


Anonymous said...

Good to learn you do not suffer from Bunting Guilt Syndrome. Believe it or not, humans are a life form also. Just as with other species we organise our living space (and incidentally create space for many other life forms, hence UK towns and cities now hold much wildlife).

I am busy wiping out Vine Weevils by stalking them after dark. (Well, the neighbours know I am strange but harmless.) Snails I collect and put into my wheelie bin. I now call this 'Guantanamo'. Eventually they are shipped off to the Great Snail Heaven of landfill – takeaway leftovers and nappies forever.

Since you are a literary gent, you might know of Gissing's 'The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft' (1903); I heard it read on R4 many years ago. One passage which struck home concerns Ryecroft watching a line of women and men, sacks over their heads to keep off the rain, bent double weeding a crop. He muses that only people of leisure can lyricize about Nature.

Orwell (a fan of Gissing's) wrote another riposte to the comfort zone school of nature writing in 'Coming Up For Air' (1938).

The Plump said...

Thanks Larkers. I haven't read Gissing. I will look up the reference when I get back, though nature seems pretty good to me on such a beautiful day :-)

Terry Glavin said...

How Bunting concludes that "the interconnections between nature and human beings" is the subject of a "new genre" is a mystery. Good she's discovered it, I suppose.

Got a good laugh from your post, Gadge. At least you've been spared the burden of having to shoot escaped fallow deer, or setting raccoon traps.

Rum deal about "nature." You've got to kill a good bit of it to make life worthwhile, and you're dead the minute you forget it also wants to kill you.