A snowy day. Earlier the snow had essentially stopped and the sun had come out. Now the clouds have lowered and we are receiving intermittent bursts of moderate snow. The feeders are covered in birds.
Here on the South Coast cold, snowy days are usually followed by thaws, so the snow cannot be expected to stay, especially in early winter. As the climate warms, snow covers the ground on fewer days. That was not so in the past, as evidenced by the experiences of the early settlers.
I awoke yesterday morning thinking about how very English the southern New England landscape is. I was strongly reminded of my childhood time spent in the Lincolnshire countryside at a time when there was room in agriculture for Nature and one could explore trails and ecological complexity between the hedgerows. Hedge trails connected villages, provided invaluable wildlife habitat, and offered young people shelter for romance.
In the following decades, the countryside faced what amounted to a second Enclosure. As happened here in he U.S., fields were consolidated, hedges destroyed, and ecological and cultural complexity greatly reduced as Nature and humans were evicted from the land. Farms were consolidated to make room for factory farming and crop mono-cultures. The diversity that had developed during hundreds of years of relative ecological stability crashed.
Here on the South Coast there is a good deal of support for small farmers and for maintaining the patchwork of fields, stone walls, and forest that has characterized the landscape since at least early Colonial times. Even so, farms continue to disappear, and sprawling housing developments increasingly fragment the landscape. Some animals do relatively well in a suburbanizing environment. We have turkeys, deer, fox, and Coyote as neighbors. Other species, most notably songbirds, fare poorly and their numbers continue in steep decline.
I like to remind myself that all things are cyclical, even those that appear linear from my limited perspective. We are all passing through, only appearing to be stable entities; we will, like all beings, be transformed, be recycled and transformed. Still, as a human being I grieve for the loss of so much I hold dear, and struggle as the current wave of destruction rolls across the landscape and through the world. It is unlikely I will be here to watch the cycles change and see the wider world renewed.