An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of May 13, 2012
written in the woods not far from Natchez, Mississippi, USA

FOREST DEMOCRACY

During the campfire breakfast surrounded by utterly green, vibrantly photosynthesizing forest, on the radio there's news about democratic institutions everywhere tying themselves in knots: No compromises, endless quibbling, things not getting done. This thought comes:

The forest is an example of a functioning democracy.

For, in a healthy forest every citizen's wish is granted to perform the activity he, she or it feels most naturally inclined to undertake. Communistic ants, capitalistic predators, working-class photosynthesizers and decomposition organisms, specialist nitrogen-fixers, artful butterflies, pathogens and parasites thinning out the weak...

I personally would be no happier in the forest's efficiency-oriented democracy with its lack of playfulness and irony than I would be in current human society as practiced beyond these woods. I'm content hermitting here with the radio news on one side and the forest on the other.

But, it's interesting: Forest democracy has survived since the first forests of fern-like plants of the genus Wattieza some 385,000,000 years ago. Forest democracy endures because it absolutely adheres to ecological laws. In contrast, history shows that human democracy flourishes only under stable conditions, and most of the time things aren't stable. And human instability arises most when, ignoring ecological laws, people end up competing for natural resources such as productive land, drinkable water, and open space enough to keep from going crazy.

How can all these environmental-deregulation-obsessed politicians claim to support democracy?

As the cornbread in my skillet bakes to a golden brown and woodsmoke blows in my face, my mind rambles on and on, and I find myself visualizing news on the radio absorbed through stomata of the forest's innumerable leaves, and word-molecules being metaphotosynthesized into music ever so sweet to hear, into fresh air a delight to breathe...

And then I slice my big slab of steaming cornbread into two faces and make a skillet-size sandwich holding an entire Elephant-garlic omelet with two eggs along with a whole tomato from the garden, a big wad of hot turnip greens also from the garden, and sweet pickle slices from a glass jar, and I eat that thing, so tickled to have come up with the concept of metaphotosynthesis, and wondering what else might be so pleasingly transmogrified. Facebook Icon