A More Mystical Concept of Animals

This morning we woke up to find a pair of peacocks in our yard. Of course, this is partly quarantine. The absence of cars means the roadways are open to animals of every kind.

But it was nevertheless a rather awe inspiring event to have two of these beautiful and by all rights friendly fowl appear in our backyard. It was a reminder that the animal world is not only a kingdom but a universe all its own with languages and lives wholly unknown to us rather solipsistic humans, much to our own detriment.

I was reminded of a Henry Beston quote from one of my favorite books of nature writing, The Outermost House written during the year he spent living on the dunes of Cape Cod during the Great Depression.

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And there in we err and great the err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren they are not underlings; they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor interval of the Earth.

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