Crow Planet : Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness
by Lyanda Lynne Haupt
Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2009
Crow Planet is a wonderful mix of ornithology, philosophy, politics and myth. Haupt brings her focus on nature to her own backyard in a very urban setting.
Haupt grew up a “nature’s child”, believing she would end up living and raising her family on the land. Life turned out differently and she found herself in the city, running to nature for vacations and whenever she could get her husband and daughter into the wood. It was a struggle, making the idea of nature fit into an urban lifestyle. After an illness and the discovery of an injured crow in her yard, Haupt began rethinking her place in the world.
I used to cling tightly to a chimeric vision of nature as something pure and somehow prehuman and to the idea that anything human-made removed a place from its natural status. But I have come to understand nature differently. Surely there is a continuum from pure, undefiled wilderness to a trammelled concrete industrial area. But there is no place, we now know, as the relentless global impacts of climate change become increasingly understood, that humans have left untouched; and there is no place that the wild does not, in some small way, proclaim itself. Many human activities are wholly ugly, working against the nature upon which we forget we depend. Still, we do not flip-flop back and forth, now in nature, now in culture, now feeling quite animal like, now wholly intellectual. We are, at all times, both at once. In this, humans may be unique, but we are no less natural. We are the human species, living in culture, bound by nature.
When we allow ourselves to think of nature as something out there, we become prey to complacency. If nature is somewhere else, then what we do doesn’t really matter..
By studying the crows living around her, the author was able to find balance. She discovered some amazing things about these ubiquitous birds. Crows are intelligent, social, adaptable and like to play. They have learned to use humans to help them survive, following our migration to cities and gleaning from our refuse. They recognize and remember human faces and will harass any human who threatens their family. They protect family members and mourn their dead. They are problem solvers, watch this and this.
For anyone living in an urban environment feeling the loss of “nature” this little books is a great way to reconnect. Haupt’s suggestions? Look around you, nature is everywhere.