Monday, June 26, 2006

My childhood was spent in a land where, though man had drained her dark swamps and laid concrete over her cleared forests, nature refused to be ignored. She made her presence known through swarms of insects that left my tiny child’s legs covered in large red welts until it looked like I was afflicted by an ancient pox. She knocked at our doors with apocalyptic winds and rains. She scattered among our waters and brush creatures large and small that could, if not end your life; make you regret its capacity for suffering. This is why I am a city boy through and through. I prefer to live in places where the natural order is completely conquered and the only dangers I face are manufactured by man. Man is much more predictable than the capricious spitefulness of nature. Angry drunks can be avoided, but an angry warthog is another matter.

The wilderness of Europe if far more tame but I am still uneasy. My first query of Scotland was a request for an enumeration of the creatures which are capable of injury1. On my recent travels through France, it was a few days before I could relax at the pleasant country house where we staying. It had been so long since I had been away from the steady night glow of the city. I woke up the first night to think I had gone blind2, because of the inky natural blackness that had packed into our room from the open windows. After a few days and a few more bottles of wine, I settled myself to enjoy the gorgeous views and easy life.

1 The worse thing they have are midges, though they bring new meaning nuisance, are harmless.
2 Goddamn French blinded me with their cheap (but delicious) wine, I thought.

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