Books on Living with Nature

Living with Nature- Two Thoughtful Books

 

At one time or another some of us have thought about what it might be to live in nature, out in the sunlight with clear air and clean water and with the company of animals around us.

Most of the books about this subject are unrealistic and don’t write of dangerous animals, disease, and lack of medical care. Self reliance is the reality of nature living.

 

Two books, one fiction and one non-fiction, have tackled this subject.

JANE, The Woman Who Loved Tarzan, by Robin Maxwell, Tor Books, 2012, ISBN 9780765333509, Paperback, Ebook, or Audio, https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Woman-Who-Loved-Tarzan/dp/0765333597/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483714521&sr=1-1&keywords=jane+tarzan

From Amazon: “Cambridge, England, 1905. Jane Porter is hardly a typical woman of her time. The only female student in Cambridge University’s medical program, she is far more comfortable in a lab coat dissecting corpses than she is in a corset and gown sipping afternoon tea. A budding paleoanthropologist, Jane dreams of traveling the globe in search of fossils that will prove the evolutionary theories of her scientific hero, Charles Darwin.

When dashing American explorer Ral Conrath invites Jane and her father to join an expedition deep into West Africa, she can hardly believe her luck. Africa is every bit as exotic and fascinating as she has always imagined, but Jane quickly learns that the lush jungle is full of secrets―and so is Ral Conrath. When danger strikes, Jane finds her hero, the key to humanity’s past, and an all-consuming love in one extraordinary man: Tarzan of the Apes.”

Critical Acclaim: “Finally an honest portrayal of the only woman of whom I have been really, really jealous. What a wonderful idea to write this book. Now I am jealous all over again!” ―Jane Goodall PhD, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace

 

My impression of this fictional book is that its fast paced adventure takes the early concept of Jane and Tarzan in Edgar Rice Burrough’s 1912 pulp magazine story and adapts it to the modern world of science. What Maxwell also does also is remind us in 2012 writing style of self reliance. It is humanity in a world without safety or assurance us of a long life. In this way it stirs us to think of ourselves as more than we may be in a our current life. Its a powerful and entertaining reminder of the wonder of nature around us and the freedom it offers is inspiring.

 

 

 

 

Into the Heart, by Kenneth Good

Simon and Schuster, 1991, ISBN 9780671728748

Hardcover, Paperback https://www.amazon.com/Into-Heart-Pursuit-Knowledge-Yanomama/dp/0671728741/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483714604&sr=1-1&keywords=into+the+heart

 

 

Kenneth Good’s non fiction scientific book prompts us to ask ourselves the question. “How are we so advanced from these people?” Moreover, “Can we live with nature the way they do?” Many of us who have deserted the city for the  homesteading lifestyle will readily admit that any of us can do this and happily so. The book gives us pause in our civilized aspirations to ask whether what we are doing with our lives is really worth it and whether these wilderness folks know something that we don’t.

 

birdwatching made easy

Bird watching, like any hobby, can become quite complicated. For example, many folks prefer to be called birders. In the United Kingdom they call themselves “twitchers.” On top of that, the technical name for those who study birds is ornithologist.

 

However, watching birds is relatively easy. You can be a successful birder just by walking trails. As you get more experience you will find that different birds live in various types of shrubbery and terrain. Like humans, wild birds have likes and dislikes about where they live and what they eat.  Some forage on the ground and some catch insects as they fly. Some like to hide in shrubbery and some like trees. So as you walk, scope out the different foliage to see who’s home.

 

You may want to see them up close and you will yearn for a telescope of some kind. Basic 7 x 35 power binoculars start at about $25. Then, when you get confused about identifying what lots of us jokingly call “the little brown bird” or LBB, you will probably buy yourself a wild bird guide. The Peterson guide, as good as any in the bookstore, starts about $10. This gear is easily carried in a small and lightweight fanny pack, leaving your arms free as you walk.

 

Let’s start with some likely sightings flying over you or sitting in a tree.

 

Usually you’ll spot some crows. These large black birds are fascinating to watch. For one thing, like ants, they are gifted with organization talents and seem to follow leaders. Many experts have written articles on the meanings of their system of calls. A group of crows will form up in a flock and attack a hawk that has invaded its territory. This “mobbing” is probably to defend nesting sites. You will only see this if the hawk is fairly large as small hawks can maneuver quickly enough to fight the swarming crows.

 

As you look at the crow remember what we know about this bird. It is one of the smartest animals in the world. It has the ability to make and use tools, often considered a trait only of humans. The family of the American crow includes Jackdaws, Jays, Ravens and Rooks. Most of these have been characters in stories and fables since ancient times.

 

You might observe some Canada geese. These are the large birds that fly in chevron formations, some all the year, but most in the colder months when they come south from Canada. Walk a little faster and you might see them land in a nearby field or pond for their lunch. This is spectacular as you see them come in, their wings cupped. They enter the water gracefully with hardly a ripple as they settle in and begin paddling around using their web feet. Canada geese can be pretty big birds. One of this species weighed in at 24 pounds with a wingspan of 7.3 feet.

 

Pretty soon, in the trees and shrubs around you you’ll hear some excited chatting. The source could be a finch, a sparrow or a wren, as they all have similar fussing sounds. You can be sure it’s one of the wren family if the bird sports up thrust tail feathers. Remember when you are watching to approach quietly, slow if possible. Birds scare easily. Hold still a few moments and they will start calling again so you can spot them.

 

If you keep an eye on larger trees as you pass, you’ll probably see a little bird heading directly down a tree trunk. This is a nuthatch and sooner or later you’ll hear his call, “yank, yank.” Not a lot of birds do this type of walking up and down as they search for food.

 

On a nearby tree trunk you likely will hear a rhythmic tapping. It’s one of several woodpecker types that hunt for insects in tree bark. If it is big and loud you’ve found birder treasure. This is a pileated woodpecker, huge and noisy and beautiful.

Chances are good on any day you’ll continue to entertain yourself with new specie sightings. On your computer you can easily check out birds that you spot. Google the description and most times you’ll see your bird up close with all his data. You’ll find sites at Audubon and Cornell University that will show you more birds. You will quickly learn what seasons they appear in your area, what kind of shrubbery they like to sit in, and what they look and sound like. Pretty soon you might want to keep a list of the first day you discovered each new bird. This activity is called by birders “keeping a life list.”  After a few years you’ll want to look back at old friends and remember when you met them. Just in case you wanted to know, the current life list record holder has spotted about 9000 different birds.

 

You can be a happy and accomplished birder without spending any money. Or, you can spend your dollars thoughtfully and buy only equipment you need to enjoy the hobby even more. So, get outside and enjoy birding.

barefoot issues

“To be barefoot or not to be”

As we go into the twenty first century we learn more each day about our body. Surprising are the discoveries about the various attributes of our feet. We now know the feet contribute more to the well being of our body than just keeping us upright to walk or run

In the early development of the human body, we were a walking or running species. Our feet were important to our survival. We lived in a land which was warm and its surface was usually a jungle or plain which had a relatively smooth surface. Thus the foot as it developed had a soft skin which could grab the earth securely and send messages to our brain of the surface condition.  As the centuries progressed we moved into harsher more rocky strewn environments looking for food. Our needs progressed as the surface became harsher with rocks remaining from glaciers. In combat with other humans we found our feet needed more protection. If they were struck by an antagonist, we would fall and be killed. Thus, we made tough boots so that we could exist as hunters. We also had to withstand harsher weather so the feet needed to be protected from ice.

However, today in many climates we have warm interiors to our homes, warm summers with leisure time and we are surrounded with paved and smooth surfaces to walk on. What does this mean with regard to going barefoot?

It may mean better health as we return to our natural state.We are learning to eat the primary foods of our ancestors to have a healthier digestion. We may need to relearn foot health and natural design to be able to walk and run better without injury.

Let’s look at the thoughts on this subject.

One of the more fascinating ideas is the concept of earthing. This means that the body receives electrical current form the earth. The idea is that the earth’s free electrons can enter your body when your bare feet contact the soil. This results in a stable internal electrical environment for the body. Whether this works of not is subject to much more testing. Earthing fans believe the body can suffer from electrical imbalance. Thus, stabilizing the imbalance will reduce inflammation  and other irritation throughout the body and thus promote health.

Another benefit is balance in the act of standing erect. By feeling the ground with bare feet you can better orient your weight and walk more securely.

Muscles can be awakened and toned. Pronation (the science of your foot movement) in your natural gait can be improved to better distribute your body’s weight as it contacts the ground. Runners have long debated this issue. In running, shoes have given athletes the capability for longer strides and speed. However, shorter strides with bare feet can improve pounding on heels and the resultant injuries. Check out Bill Gifford’s excellent discussion of barefoot running in Men’s Journal http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/is-barefoot-running-really-better-20130603

Often, your feet become healthier through being barefoot. Since the foot is in use through all its nerves and muscles, it tends to improve in strength, flexibility and blood flow. Think about this. In wearing shoes you are essentially standing on a small platform. This can often give you a slippery support, especially if the shoes are poorly fitted. If you fall you can twist your ankle. Your foot, moving inside poorly designed shoes, has no chance to adapt to a change in posture as it was originally designed to do. With shoes, of course your toes have little value at all. However, they were supposed to help you adapt to the ground and to wrap around things to help you climb.

But what are the downsides of being barefoot?

Your feet get dirty for sure. It can be a big difference whether this is earthy soil from forest paths or ugly filth from city streets.

If you puncture the skin of your feet with a sharp object, you’ll need a tetanus shot to prevent possible lockjaw. You’ll also need clean bandages.

There’s the danger of absorbing disease from walking on infested soil such as refuse from animals. This could produce hookworm.  Plantar warts and athletes foot can be contacted by being barefoot, especially at the pool or showering at a public gym.

Everyone is affected by foot trauma from icy or hot surfaces. You’ll have to watch the weather. Winter weather is not fun for walking barefoot and the heated concrete streets of summer are not pleasant.

Check out these sources for more information and always consult your foot doctor for advice on your own plans to be barefoot.

http://www.runbare.com/

http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15777/1/Benefits-of-Walking-Barefoot.html

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9099/the-surprising-health-benefits-of-going-barefoot.html

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/20/barefoot-on-electron-deficiency.aspx