There’s nothing quite like a book. Erasmus had his priorities right: “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” Alas, it’s now impossible to send the old boy a gift of a book, but I think you and yours might appreciate the following as long as you don’t use Amazon, a nasty business even before its disgusting boss realized he could work with Trump.
Dave Goulson, founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in the UK, explores the disappearance of bumblebees in Britain and his efforts to reintroduce the extirpated Short-haired BB, which by an irony of colonial history survived in New Zealand. Ah, but you’ll be saying to yourself, what about evolution, the 160 plus generations since that introduction to NZ? There’s a lot here on humblebees in general (dumbledore, by the way, is an old Britishism for BBs).
Richard Mabey spins many a tale about the long relationship between humans and plants. This is an episodic botanical history with a lot of stories within; I was particularly taken with his early chapters on trees.Did you know that Henry David Thoreau’s extensive natural history notes have been used to document the much earlier blooming times for plants now in Concord. You can explore Thoreau’s plant observations yourself in Geoff Wisner‘s distillation of Thoreau’s voluminous journals. The illustrations by Barry Moser nicely complement the extracts. (Geoff’s Thoreau’s Animals is due in March.)In the last few years, you’ve probably been reading about the microbiomes all around us, in us and of us, and how they have helped to make us, and all animals, what we are. Ed Yong puts it all between covers. The definition of human has changed in our lifetime. How amazing is that? I for one celebrate it.
Next Sunday: some more books.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also suggest the very relevant again 1984 by George Orwell. Orwell’s most interesting contribution was his take on how language is corrupted and co-opted by authority. From Reagan’s “facts are stupid things” to Trump spokesmodels saying there are no such things as facts, through the lying machine of advertising and corporate bullshit, truth has taken an enormous beating in our time. That has been done for a purpose, and it has very much succeeded for far too many Americans. Note also Steve Tesich’s first use of “post-truth” 25 years ago. It’s up to us to save language and with it ourselves.