Sunday, May 8, 2016

Chet Raymo, “This View of Life, With Its Several Powers”

 “This View of Life, With Its Several Powers”
by Chet Raymo

“Somewhere in his "lost" notebooks Loren Eiseley writes of the pleasure of exploding a puffball in a woodland clearing, or shaking seeds out of their pods. As I recall, he takes a gleeful satisfaction in messing with evolution, in hurrying the process along. I remember identifying with that sentiment when I read it. I like exploding puffballs too. Dropping insects into spider webs. Picking up turtles that are half-way across a road and placing them in a ditch on the other side. Most of all I like breaking off the stalks of ripe milkweeds and shaking them gloriously in a meadow on a breezy day. Love that snowstorm of fecund parachutes blowing hither and yon. Love the idea that I am helping the monarch butterflies that feed and breed exclusively on milkweed.

Yes, I know, in the great scheme of things my random intrusions into the grinding engine of evolution won't make an iota's worth of difference. The problems besetting monarch butterflies won't be significantly alleviated by one more milkweed plant. And that turtle I put in the ditch may just turn around and head back across the road. Still, I take a childish pleasure in mixing it up. Of helping the natural in natural selection. Of kicking up a little dust on the tangled bank. We live in a creative universe, Eiseley said. Let's be creative."

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