Fauna and Flora, Earth and Sky: Brushes with Nature's Wisdom by Trudy Dittmar

By Trudy Dittmar

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Extra info for Fauna and Flora, Earth and Sky: Brushes with Nature's Wisdom (Sightline Books)

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The forest snow, not having drifted to such heights, was gone for the most part, but the floor of the forest was still damp and drab too, the bright green leaves of arnica, geranium, and lupine to come still mere coiled potentials down in the soil, and it was hard to distinguish one form from another against the dark mottling of forest-floor debris. It took a long lot of hard staring to make that patch of ground configure into a large bespiked rodent. Against the ground’s brownness he blended in well, my first porcupine.

He didn’t swerve or budge a centimeter, though the old throbbing was there. I hadn’t hit the event horizon yet, but I was getting there, and then there was a movement of more than guard hairs trembling. The quills were rising slowly, all over his body, high on his back and out on his sides and in a mighty lionish mane around his face. And then he himself was moving. Clumsy, sluggish, like pahoehoe lava creeping out through a crevice in some Hawaiian basalt flow, he reminded me also of someone who’s been bedridden for months, weak and shaky, taking their first steps.

Some advocate measures to eliminate the cattle industry entirely. Allan Savory, an ecologist who has spent a lifetime with his eye on both the natures of cows and of semiarid ecosystems like certain ones in the American West, puts a paradoxical spin on things: he believes that, properly managed, cows are the way to restore those ecosystems to health. Simplified, his reasoning is as follows: Such areas were traditionally populated by vast herds of plant-eating ungulates (bison, mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn) that through their particular grazing habits and patterns promoted the biodiversity upon which the health of an ecosystem depends.

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