Southampton in the 90s: heading to the station for the last train home from work, the main road silent, empty of traffic and people – and a fox sauntered up the path. We both stopped, inspecting each other. Then she moved closer, slow but not especially cautious. I’m unsure how cautious urban foxes should be… More than this. I stood. She kept coming, reached out her snout, sniffed. Continue reading “msb ~041 Beyond the background wild #2”
On the Conversation website, Christopher Sandom discusses Shifting Baseline Syndrome. In the book Anticipatory History, National Trust ranger Justin Whitehouse described this phenomenon as “personal and ‘generational’ amnesia, due to relatively short life spans and memories.” Whitehouse was describing people’s tendency to imagine contemporary natural or cultural features (in his case, the harbour wall at Mullion in Cornwall; in Sandom’s, the wildlife of Britain) as the ‘natural’ state, set in time around their own childhood or maybe stories from their grandparents’ times. We discount longer-term trends (and our parts in them), underestimating the true scale of past – or future – change.
Thinking about those moments when I’ve really encountered wild animals, I realise there are very few true moments. Beyond the ‘background wild’, I mean. Yes, crows call from trees as I pass beneath, a deer runs from me in the woods; or I spy a fox just sitting in the sunlit field, watching its world. The spiders and flies and (when there was a cat) fleas in the house. Very few true moments: encountering something wild encountering me, when we break through the veil and see each other across the divide.Continue reading “msb ~029 Beyond the background wild #1”