Corncrakes and Clare

I open the door this morning and almost step in a pile of fox shit (again). Later, I hoover up a dessicated fly carcass and find a fragment of silky moth wing under the stairs. There's a waxy mark of a wood pigeon wing on the window. Slugs are eating bits of dog food in the garden. Meanwhile the teeming bacteria in my gut break down processed oats and multiply.
I was wondering today if there is any truly wild nature left on Earth - life which has no reference to humans and remains unaffected by our existence. Of course, it would be impossible to quantify this, because the act of measuring itself would be an intervention or at least a disturbance.
Possibly microbes in hot springs in the middle of rainforests, or hydrothermal vents on the deep sea floor? Plankton. Apes, untouched in deep canopies? Earthworms in the loam? Particular mountain lichen, bog flowers on remote slopes, microbes that colonise creases of ancient rock?
If there is no wild nature left, what does it matter?
Nature is indifferent. It is us, as humans, who ascribe it moral qualities. I have problems with defining the word 'nature' - it is freighted with political baggage and romantic connotations. Perhaps it is simply the physical world and all it contains.
Humans are 'nature' - we are on its spectrum but in the oddly unique position of being conscious of its existence. Indeed, of conceptualising it. Nature for many people (most people) only exists in relation to us.

Is artificial nature, - that is flora and fauna arranged and curated by humans, for our pleasure, any less worthy than the truly wild?
It must be incomparably more thrilling to see a whale fluke break out of the ocean, than watch it on TV.
Big cats in zoos, lying against the safety glass, are pallid out of their context; weakened. Pampas grass makes me laugh. I admire city pigeons.

I have pasted John Clare's poem about the corncrake - 'The Landrail' below. These quail-round, tawny birds used to be widespread in Britain, before mechanisation, but are now only found in some Scottish islands, and on an RSPB reserve. I wish I could hear their call. That loss makes me sad. We have lost their commonality in relation to our lives. Now the discordant screech of the ring-necked parakeet is part of our everyday soundscape in London's parks, at least. Nature doesn't give a ripe fig about our classifications and measurements and artistic interpretations. But it gives us immense richness and we should keep noticing it, even through the safety glass of urbanised life.

John Clare's poem - the Landrail

How sweet and pleasant grows the way
Through summer time again
While Landrails call from day to day
Amid the grass and grain

We hear it in the weeding time
When knee deep waves the corn
We hear it in the summers prime
Through meadows night and morn

And now I hear it in the grass
That grows as sweet again
And let a minutes notice pass
And now tis in the grain

Tis like a fancy everywhere
A sort of living doubt
We know tis something but it neer
Will blab the secret out

If heard in close or meadow plots
It flies if we pursue
But follows if we notice not
The close and meadow through

Boys know the note of many a bird
In their birdnesting bounds
But when the landrails noise is heard
They wonder at the sounds

They look in every tuft of grass
Thats in their rambles met
They peep in every bush they pass
And none the wiser get

And still they hear the craiking sound
And still they wonder why
It surely cant be under ground
Nor is it in the sky

And yet tis heard in every vale
An undiscovered song
And makes a pleasant wonder tale
For all the summer long

The shepherd whistles through his hands
And starts with many a whoop
His busy dog across the lands
In hopes to fright it up

Tis still a minutes length or more
Till dogs are off and gone
Then sings and louder than before
But keeps the secret on

Yet accident will often meet
The nest within its way
And weeders when they weed the wheat
Discover where they lay

And mowers on the meadow lea
Chance on their noisy guest
And wonder what the bird can be
That lays without a nest

In simple holes that birds will rake
When dusting on the ground
They drop their eggs of curious make
Deep blotched and nearly round

A mystery still to men and boys
Who know not where they lay
And guess it but a summer noise
Among the meadow hay


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