Monday, September 14, 2009

Notes from Turtle Creek (4). Ted Browning.

The Kennett Paper. Chadds Ford, PA: Brandywine Conservancy. 1991.

Why read it? I’m sure you have never heard of Ted Browning. He wrote essays on nature, specifically in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He urges that open space be distinguished for conservation of natural processes or modified for parks, playgrounds, green space. He died young. The editor of the paper in which Ted published his essays, said plaintively: “I wish he were here to put it in perspective for us. I wish he could…explain to us why the katydids are louder than usual, the shad bush blossoms more brazen, the fall colors more muted, the dogwoods duller.” p. xiii.

Sample Quotes and Ideas:

“If the Japanese and native Americans are right in their belief that certain special corners in the natural world are home to guardian spirits watching over the affairs of humans and animals, then this beautiful tree [the dogwood] is prime spirit real estate.” p. 57.

“An explosion of bloom so intense, so packed that the tree seemed to have tapped into some hidden fountain of dogwood youth….” p. 57.

“…how important dogwoods are as a food source for animals and birds the fat red fruits of late summer are gorged by at least 86 species of birds including grouse, quail, pheasant, and turkey—and by animals such as squirrels, possums and raccoons.” p. 58.

“The fruits of the dogwood are thick and fleshy, loaded with fats, oils and carbohydrates like little avocados.” p. 59.

“What an amazing thing it must be, I thought, to work with plants every day and even get paid for it.” p. 60.

“…the suburban growler (the rotary mower).” p. 62.

“The smell of the barn—a stewpot aroma of cows, milk, meadows, of oats and corn mashed into cowfeed; the spicy tang of chopped corn in the silo, churning and fermenting and stewing down to sour mash and cow beer, the brown squishy smell of manure.” p. 66.

“All things are connected—one of ecology’s bedrock concepts.” p. 68.

“The native Americans phrased it more poetically: Pluck one tiny corner of the web of life/ ripples resonate through the entire membrane.” p. 68.

To be continued.

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