Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Art, Animals, and Deep Ecology

Pocket Knife Corner
And so the argument rages.  My morning check in with friends on social media finds the architect writing that only humans are capable of art and an artist protesting that as an arrogant and incorrect statement.  Such is the thought seed for my trip canoe trip.

The Gravel Flats
Several year back, a good friend told me, I think while we were out wandering about in a large forest, that I was a "deep ecologist".  This was a term that I was unfamiliar with and even now can't fully explain.  However, I read up on the idea and agreed that for the most part, that is where I lay.  It is a belief that all species have a right to exist, and a reason to exist, and that those rights and reasons are rather equal to our own.  It's the idea that you should have respect for the natural world.  Use it, but use it with respect and care. 

So, from that place where I stand, I see that humans are not the only species capable of art.  What we have learned about animals in my lifetime is quite remarkable.  Once, tool use was the difference between animal and man.  Then we found out that apes and crows and who knows what else were modifying found objects to use as tools in their daily routines.  Then some scientists taught a gorilla to communicate with sign language.  We figured out that whales communicate with each other over great distances and that elephants and Crows perform elaborate funerals for lost members of their tribes.  Male Bower Birds gather and organize blue objects to entice a mate...and a Bower Bird's display rivals any home-made valentine.  And., many other birds compete through dance or song.  The reason for these other-species arts are little different than our own.  As an artist I make a fairly large quantity of art while making a fairly small quantity of income from it.  My main reason for my art is to draw others into discussion.  My reason is not much different than the animal arts.

The Long Cut
I set out from Foote Bridge on a spectacular sunny autumn day.  The morning 35F temperature and sunlit surface of the waters put a thin low fog over the marsh.  The tide is high and the current nonexistent up in the forest where the water is still backing up.  My course is often set by covering the harsh reflection of the sun on the water with the bow of my canoe.

When I get below the railroad bridge I take the alternative route into the Long Cut.  On my last trip here, a hunter asked if I'd seen any ducks and I told him that I often spot a lot of Black Ducks in the area near the Long Cut knowing that they weren't going to figure out how to get back there anyway.  So, I head back there today to satisfy my own curiosity.  It is an easy go with the water high and the narrow gap is about as wide as I've ever seen it.  By the time I am down to the confluence with the Neck River I have flushed no less than a 150 Black Ducks and half that many Canada Geese.  It's a pretty busy place today.

The state boat launch
From the flooded state boat launch I return up the main river. 
Pocket Knife Corner
A squat shorebird draws me over to the bank at the first railroad bend.  It looks somewhat snipe-like.  Then, it stands and stretches out and it is a Yellow Legs that had me fooled.  I spot a couple more off behind it.
Foote Bridge...also, the old stage coach ford

No comments: