Thursday, July 16, 2015

Helen MacDonald

"On Nature" column in the New York Times Magazine

Helen MacDonald, author of H is for Hawk, is now writing a monthly column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Wonderful writing. All worth reading. The most recent, on "hides" and hiding and more and less, will lead you to the others, if you like this one. (Or see the columns linked below.)

Hiding From Animals

The Island Mere Hide at the Minsmere nature
preserve on the Suffolk coast of England.  
Credit Giles Price for The New York Times
What you see from hides is supposed to be true reality: animals behaving perfectly naturally because they do not know they are being observed. But turning yourself into a pair of eyes in a darkened box distances you from the all-encompassing landscape around the hide, reinforcing a divide between human and natural worlds, encouraging us to think that animals and plants should be looked at, not interacted with. Sometimes the window in front of me resembles nothing so much as a television screen.

To witness wild animals behaving naturally, you don’t need to be invisible. As scientists studying meerkats and chimps have shown, with time you can habituate them to your presence. But hiding is a habit that is hard to break. There is a dubious satisfaction in the subterfuge of watching things that cannot see you, and it’s deeply embedded in our culture. More ...

Other Recent "On Nature" Columns (copied from NYT)

  1. Identification, Please

    Learning how to use a field guide can make you feel at home anywhere in the world.
  2. Flight Paths

    Tracking animals as they migrate across the globe is addictive: It’s hard not to see ourselves in their journeys.
  3. The Living Beauty of Wicken Fen

    In one of Britain’s oldest nature reserves, Darwin collected beetles and Saxon warlords hid from invaders. But walking there now is much more than a visit to the past.
  4. A Falcon in the City

    Watching a wild falcon hunt pigeons in an industrial ruin ushers you into a silent world.

No comments: