After the Election: Some Thoughts on Nature / by Brandon Keim

As someone who spends a lot of time writing about and thinking about nature, I've found myself considering what place this has in society right now. Does anyone really want to hear about migrating warblers? And even if they do, does it matter?

To this I offer the reflections of George Orwell in his essay "Some Thoughts on the Common Toad." "The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers," wrote Orwell — yet still he delighted in blackbird songs and flights of kestrels, blooming primroses and a toad's chrysoberyl eyes. Amidst the wreckage of postwar England, nature was an affirmation of life.

One might argue: isn't that just escapism? Sure, birds and flowers and rabbits are nice, but aren't there much more important things to think about now?

I feel some of that, too. Tweeting a picture of a bluebird does feel frivolous. And yet — the rest of the living world doesn't cease to be important or beautiful or deserving simply because of our own turmoil. And if political duty demanded we stop noticing lives other than our own, that would be a sad and destructive thing. We'd be much the poorer for it.

Whatever one's political persuasion or life's circumstances, our days are far richer for treasuring that bluebird. Perhaps we might even find in a late-blooming patch of asters some common ground. I've my own politics, at odds with a great many other people; but nature, I hope, transcends all that. It might even help see us through.