An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of June 13, 2004
issued Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve Headquarters
in Jalpan, Quéretaro, MÉXICO

IT'S REALLY BEAUTIFUL,
ISN'T IT. ISN'T IT... ?

Back to that adder's-tongue fern. I'd hiked over an hour through very pretty terrain before finally spotting something that caused me to call a halt to the march so I could photograph it. When Marcelino dismounted his mule and came back to see what I'd found, the disappointment in his face was clear as he realized that my interest was in such a plain-looking sprig of greenness. He said:

"It's beautiful, isn't it?"

I nodded my head and tried to explain why finding Limestone Adder's-tongue Fern was so exciting, but I could see that his mind just wasn't accustomed to dealing with concepts like distribution patterns, evolution, unusual ecological niches and genetics.

"It's beautiful," he repeated rather dubiously. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

Here's the subtext of that conversation:

Marcelino knew that plants can have an esthetic value, they can provide sustenance and medicine, they can invade cornfields, they can sting and scratch... But none of those characteristics could account for my photographing that plain-looking thing, unless somehow I regarded it as "beautiful."

In other words, from the several perspectives Marcelino could see the plant from, its being "beautiful," despite the plant's obvious lack of beauty, was the most likely attribute to explain my interest.

Of course the explanation is that, just as he had some perspectives I didn't, I also had some perspectives he didn't.

This is worth thinking about.

For, in everyday life, what perspectives do we lack in order for everything we see and experience to seem extraordinary and worth knowing?

By learning more about the world around us, cannot we automatically equip ourselves with more perspectives from which to behold the ordinary things around us? And, by having more perspectives, won't we automatically see more beauty, and therefore be more likely to draw from ourselves more enthusiasm, more zest for living, more elemental gladness to be alive?

And is there anything more available and worthy of studying than esthetically pleasing and spirit-nourishing than Nature?

In other words, can't studying Nature make us happier? Facebook Icon.