An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of October 7, 2001
issued from the woods just south of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

A HERMIT'S IMPRESSIONS
(AFTER A TRIP)

Though most of my adult life I have traveled in many parts of the world, both as a botanist and a freelance writer, during this last year I have not been outside Adams County, Mississippi at all, and only off of Laurel Hill Plantation for those few hours needed to buy supplies during my monthly bike trips into town. This trip has been quite a change for me.

My first vivid impression of the world outside was that it was a delight to see so many kinds of humans. Children playing in yards, the grouchy bus driver, the friendly Mexican traveling to a new town, people in cars sipping Cokes as they drove, people walking down streets with cellular phones at their ears. It occurred to me that meeting a new human was like discovering a new wildflower, except that humans are much more interesting, more complex, offering more levels of interpretation and appreciation.

However, the problem with humans is that there are too many of us. Soon I became desensitized to them, even oppressed by their numbers, and by the destruction they have done to every ecosystem I have seen. I find the Earth to be in a real mess and the mess grows daily. Forests wrecked, air smudged, water wasted and polluted, soil abused, open spaces made junky, quietness spoiled.

Often I thought how wonderful it would be if our human populations were just diffuse enough so that whenever one of us met another we could greet the other as a unique individual worth examining and knowing, just the way Sigrid and I might examine a new orchid along our Appalachian trail. Facebook Icon.