Sunday, March 15, 2009

Seeing Things Differently

Different people can look at the same thing and see it very very differently. This is nowhere perhaps as true as it is in the desert of the southwest. To me it is a rich and diverse ecosystem, with system parallels to the prairie that I know so well and to the woodlands that I know but less well. I see the desert landscape and its plant and animal life and its geology and strive to understand it in that framework of an ecosystem shaped by sun and far less water than the other ecosystems I know. I seek and find the layers of plants, the predators and prey, the decomposers, the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of reproduction of each plant resulting in its method of seed dispersal, and so on. In that paradigm of an ecosystem, I see beauty and diversity and organization and structure. My sons see it partly as I do because I have taught them that on our various trips but also they see it as a place to climb and hike and challenge themselves physically. To the athletically inclined that we invited on our Thanksgiving hike for the last time 2 years ago, they saw it as barren and bland and dry and inhospitable and they prefer to run on suburban streets and flat rails-to-trails pathways without the inconvenience of the whole backpacking thing. To some of the tourists we met on the trail on the last day of our backpacking Thanksgiving weekend, the specific trail we were on was merely an item on a checklist to be seen and ticked off as such. When we met them about a quarter mile from the trailhead, they were concerned only that they were 'done' seeing it enough to check it off.
To me, nature is beautiful and as near sacred as anything can be; to far too many, it is merely inconvenient.

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