Bare Bones Biology 005B – Gaia

Midafternoon on a shizukana Monday in Niibo Uryuya is quiet and peaceful, but if you walk along the paths and the car-width roads you find a day filled with relaxed activity.  People are meticulously fixing, mending, weeding.  I am sitting, eating an ice cream cone quick, before it melts, and reading Gaia, the new edition. The mockingbird-equivalent screeches long high notes from the electrical wire, while the local hawk paraglides the survey of his territory.

101116HickorySoft_DSC8611LCLPsAnd then I have to try to write about it.Spiders hide in the hedges, behind their webs, apparently with their bellies full of dragonflies, judging by the remains.  In Texas this time of year the dragonflies range under the electrical wires and over the goatweed, about head high to a horse, in territories about two meters square.  Sometimes they switch territories with a neighbor, but they maintain an equidistant cruising mode.  Someone said they are hunting fire ants.  Anyone who lunches on fire ants is OK by me, so I like to sit and read and watch their iridescent air dances in the middle of the afternoon when it’s too hot to do anything else.

Here in Niibu Uryuya there are no fire ants, but I’m sure there is a fire ant equivalent because today for the first time the dragonflies are flashing red over the rice fields in little equally spaced territories, about head height to a horse.  If there were horses.  I wonder if it’s the same species of dragonfly, and then I wonder if it matters.  Amateur naturalists love to learn the names of things, but I’m having trouble remembering Japanese words, which right now I could really use, and I already know there is an animal to inhabit every lifestyle on this earth – the Japanese mockingbird equivalent and the hawk and the dragonflies, all are fulfilling the same purpose, doing the same job here that they do, whatever the species, in Texas, and that is one reason the world does not grind to a halt.  The magnificence of this whole of creation, where every little bit fits perfectly into the whole fabric of life, far surpasses words for explanation.  Gaia indeed.

In fact, that’s why I never read Gaia the first time round.  The so-called “Gaia hypothesis” is one of those beautiful ideas, like evolution, that clicks open a door of the mind to a new view on the reality of creation, as it has to be (or it wouldn’t work).  If you take the time to learn all the reasons why people have discovered these concepts they seem so obvious, after they have been discovered, so elegant, so necessarily true (or we wouldn’t exist) that the reading of the book, which by the way was written by James Lovelock — no matter how well it’s written, is anticlimactic — a comparatively pedestrian recitation of specifics that clip the wings of the beauty of the creation it is trying to describe.

But I am reading the book, so I can give the guy credit for calling our attention to the beauty of our one common reality, the living earth.

And then I have to try to write about it.

A podcast of this episode can be downloaded at: