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One of the most heartbreaking passages of writing I’ve ever read comes from Robert Macfarlane’s book Landmarks. I cannot read this passage without breaking down in tears.
“The same year I first saw the Peat Glossary, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words introduced to the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voicemail.”
We are in a terrible predicament. We protect what we love. But how can we love what we have not encountered? How can we love the acorn or the bluebell or the buttercup if we live in a place where all the space they might grow has been concreted over?
As we encounter the natural world less and less, we have fewer opportunities to fall in love and we cannot care about something we do not love.
Therefore, notice every flower, every tree, every insect, every animal you encounter because noticing is how we fall in love. And wherever you can, plant opportunities for others to fall in love too.
Love and courage,