I’m worried about swallows. There don’t seem to be enough of them this year. Perhaps I’ve been unlucky. Or perhaps they have. I look at the sky and I fret. Not many swifts either. Of course, they might just be dodging the dodgy weather with a side-trip to the Bay of Biscay…
If you like wild stuff you condemn yourself to a certain amount of fretting. There aren’t enough of them, they’re arriving too late, or too early, they’re too quiet, the dry weather will harm them, or perhaps the wet weather, or the heat, or the cold.
If you learn how to look at a landscape correctly, you can see at a glance how much is no longer there. Almost, it’s as if by loving wildlife you are wilfully bringing sadness into your life.
My mother used to say that to acquiring a pet was an investment in sadness. That didn’t stop her acquiring dogs and loving them. And besides, what she said about pets is true on a much wider field: if you love anything that lives, you will have sadness in your life.
That’s the deal. Most of us accept it. We love, knowing that love will bring sadness. That’s because we also know that living without loving is not life.
But that shouldn’t really be true of the wild world, should it? If we form an attachment to wild individuals, sure, they’re likely to predecease us — but an attachment to the wild world itself really should be safe enough.
It isn’t of course. To love the wild is to accept sadness as an inevitable part of your own existence. That’s because we keep losing stuff: not as part of the eternal round of birth and copulation and death but to the lumbering juggernaut of destruction. The wild world no longer replenishes as used to.
I look at the sky for swallows, I look in vain, and I feel the pain of sadness. And well — if that’s the price you have to pay for loving wildlife, I embrace it willingly.
Here’s Eddie’s blog: 30 days wild5