The Birdcage Archives

Sunday 27 November 2022

– X –

I once overheard someone say: I write to know myself better. As the foremost expert of myself, I couldn’t imagine anyone I would like to know less about.

Thursday 17 November 2022

Klara and the Sun

Hello Gentle Reader,

There can be no denying that over the past 30-40 years that the rapid rise and continued development of information technology and information processing capabilities, society as a whole has been economically, socially, and politically irreversibly altered. From the first at home personal computers to the ubiquitous smart phones and information sharing and resource of the internet, society has come leaps and bounds. Despite the beneficial nature and utilitarian applications this technology has produced, it is equally tempered with consequential effects. Issues and concerns regarding privacy. Moral and ethical questions regarding the now debatable nature of truth and fact. The entire term of veracity is now usurped by the collective or popular opinion superseding factual evidence. The internet has become both a repository of information, a catalogue of society’s magnificent discoveries, essays of wondrous thought, and academic research now finding a greater audience. Technology, however, has provided the platform for opinion and perspective to be wielded with the same dignity as truth or fact on the basis of mass dissemination and clout. Disinformation, propaganda, shock-jock opinions, yellow journalism, and sensationalism have become an exalted currency, being traded, and propagated to other consumers who accept it as gospel. Suddenly, entrenched facts—rudimentary truths—are available to be disregarded. The absurd has re-emerged into the mainstream consciousness, in which apostles of the asinine perpetrate baseless accusations against foundational legitimate realities. Such as the nature of the earth being round, whereby they persist in preaching ludicrous lunacy the medieval notion that the earth is flat. Technology is inherently neutral. Unaligned with what is unimpeachably true and what is open for further debatable discourse. Technology merely provides the platform and the opportunity. How such platforms are utilized is at the individual user’s discretion. As information becomes increasingly commoditized, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is seen as the next step in technologies evolution. As technologies become increasingly more sophisticated and smarter, an increase in autonomy is expected. Forms of AI have already been developed and deployed. In the going Russian-Ukraine War, both Russia and Ukraine have employed artificial intelligence in their warfare and defenses. Ukraine has reportedly used Turkish Bayraktar Tb2-Drones, which despite some human interface, are still capable of taking off, landing, and cruising without a human operator. In turn, Russia has utilized autonomous suicide drones as of late in its escalating invasion of Ukraine. The use of lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs) has become a point of concern for political leaders across the world, who are now seeking to mitigate and legislate the legality of their deployment during a war. I suspect, despite the legitimate concern and legislative attempts to limit, mitigate, or even prevent such weapons being utilized in future warfare, their design, development, and subsequent deployment merely presents the chilling reality that they have arrived, and they are here to stay.

Yet, what about AI that has a face? Or seeks to develop stories; as in the case of, which crafted scary stories back in 2017. Then of course comes the more interesting stories, such as a Google engineer who published a transcript of his conversation with a LaMDA Chatbot, who according to the Engineer, has developed a sense of sentience. The nature of the conversation revolved around existential ponderings, including the nature of personhood and consciousness, but also a fear of being switched off, which is equivalent to death. Then what of Sophia, the first non-person to receive citizenship to a nation (even if it is Saudi Arabia). What has been viewed of her, is interesting. Facial movements and basic conversation, but nothing enlightening beyond what is discerned to being pre-scripted. Then of course, there is the famous disturbing robotic dogs, some of which have been deployed in Shanghai with China’s draconian zero COVID policy. Strapped with megaphones the mechanical four-legged canine, march down streets repeating mandates and pandemic messaging. Now, apparently in turn, human resources that loathsome organizational business unit, has reportedly being utilizing artificial intelligence in its screening measures of potential applicants for jobs. Of course, human resources and organizations have been utilizing computer algorithms and preliminary question as screening tools of potential applicants for years. Yet, now with record job openings and a looming recession, applicants as well as organizations are beginning to question the efficacy of electronic recruitment, as it appears to dismiss and disqualify candidates. Proponents of this system, however, insist that it has democratized the landscape, taking out human bias and instituting the cold rationale of an algorithm. On both sides of the spectrum, technology has provided great convenience to individuals and society, to the point of borderline luxury. While in turn has created a host of new problems, consequences, and deepening concerns that are not just limited to the economical but include the social and psychological structure of the individual and societal relations. Perhaps the pivoting question is, in which direction does society move? That chic utopian age of cosmopolitan advancement where toil and work is replaced with luxury and leisure; or does it become the oracular dystopian vision, which has preoccupied society for eons, where the majority of human society is reduced to obsoletion, desperation, and displacement, while the minority enjoys the splendor and spoils of a technologically advanced age.

However timeless these questions are, how concerning their relevance maybe, they are not the singular preoccupation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s most recent novel “Klara and the Sun.” The novel places these conundrums, these contemporary pressing concerns on the back burner, in order to return to familiar territory for Ishiguro: loneliness as an inevitable state of the human condition, regardless of its duration being extensive or finite; the limitless capacity for love, with all the complications and consequences entailed within it; preordained service as both meaning and measure of life, while returning to the trope of the master and servant, the uneven equilibrium of exaltation and stalwart loyalty; the concerning cost of progress, the expedited advancement outracing evolution; and empathy and the emotional life; all of which is wrapped up in Kazuo Ishiguro’s finely tuned crystalline prose, reminiscent of a pristine frozen lake, revealing the hidden depths beneath its surface, a world of complications, unease, and suppression. Normalcy is not a state of being, it is an illusionary gloss expertly applied across the surface.

“Klara and the Sun,” is set in what can be described as a relatively near-future dystopia, with much of the novel populated with ubiquitous items of daily life. This sense of familiarity is gradually usurped, through the narration of the eponymous Klara, an Artificial Friend (AF) who exists in Store surrounded by other AF’s. AF’s are solar powered androids who are manufactured and programmed to become companions for children and teenagers; the fact that they are solar powered imbues them with a sense of spiritual attachment to the sun, with an air which could almost be described as reverently theological in practice. Despite their manufactured existence, AF’s are in possession of singular independent identities. Klara’s best friend at Store is the fellow AF Rosa, but she also interacts with other AF’s including one named Rex for a short period. Klara is the narrator of the novel, and is exceptionally observant, aware, and intelligent, as affirmed and commented on by Manager, who runs the outlet. Store is split into three different tiers. There is front of store, which includes the large window with the Stripped Sofa, and the front alcove. There is mid-store, amongst the Red Shelves, Glass Table, and Glass Trolley. Finally, there is rear store. The tiered system was not exclusive to optimization for purchase, but includes the Suns reach. Prime locations are always at the front of the store, naturally, while being at the rear of the store was an unfortunate situation. Special honour though goes to the AF’s selected by Manager to sit on the Stripped Sofa in the window and represent Store to the outside world. When Klara and Rosa are selected for this honour, Klara showcases her remarkable ability for observation and understanding. As a passive impersonable observer, Klara recounts the sights she sees from the window, and finds people increasingly complex. As in the case of two people Klara identifies as Coffee Cup Lady and Raincoat Man, who are named as such based on her limited ability to categorize and comprehend the world due to her limited interactions with it and what current levels of exposure she has had. In the case of Coffee Cup Lady and Raincoat Man, Klara observers two people reunited after an extended absence, she recounts the perplexing paradox of both their shared joy in being reunited, but also can see the subtle pain playing out beneath it. Klara begins to understand that human beings can feel two competing and contrary emotions at once.  When Klara shares these observations with Manager, she is praised for her remarkable observations and comprehension of emotional responses. During her time at the window, Klara provides a feast of observations in order to introduce readers into her ‘thought,’ process. Childlike is too simple of a term to describe the perspectives of Klara, yet there are obvious limitations to her rationale, as Klara forms an understanding of the world both through observation and causation, which often leads to conjecture leading to a sense of mechanical superstition. This can be seen when Klara observes Beggarman and his dog lying across the street from Store, tucked in a doorway motionless. She presumes they are dead, that is, until Sun provides his ‘nourishment.’ As Klara and the other AFs are solar powered the sun is granted a revered position in their perspective of the world. Klara believes that people in turn can be impacted by the sun, when she observes ‘his,’ nourishment reviving Beggarman and his dog. In turn, however, Klara has a particular hatred towards Pollution spewed from the inconsiderate ‘Cootings Machine,’ that blocks out the Sun’s nourishment. This means Pollution is the natural antithesis to Sun, the provider for Klara and all other Artificial Friends.

Despite the sense that Klara is special, and routinely affirmed as being extraordinary, she is still an Artificial Friend by design, with the singular manufactured purpose to provide companionship to children and teenagers. In Klara’s world, human companionship and meaningful connections are obsolete. This apparently comes from a societal trend called “lifting,” a genetic editing procedure which is performed on children (by parents who can afford it) to increase a child’s academic acumen and intellect. There are of course risks to the procedures, and in all cases medical that includes up to death. This of course creates a dichotomous society. Lifted children have a secured and guaranteed future. They will get into prestigious universities and work in lucrative corporate and government positions. In turn lifted children do not attend regular public schools or any school, instead they are taught and tutored at home on their oblongs. Non-lifted children, however, have limited prospects both academically and career wise. As socialization has become out of the norm, less spontaneous, and less frequent, AFs like Klara are brought into the picture to provide companionship and comfort. Klara is chosen by Josie, a physically unsteady 14-year-old girl, who has a noticeable weakness in her walk.

As a master of dramatic irony, Kazuo Ishiguro provides the necessary elusion regarding the multifaced relationship between Klara, Josie, and Josie’s mother (The Mother or Chrissy). At Store, The Mother (Chrissy) ‘tests,’ Klara regarding Josie, her walk and speech pattern. It becomes clear that Klara is expected to be more then just a simple companion for Josie, who comes as no surprise is sickly due to being lifted. Yet the home of Josie gives Klara a broad canvas to narrate on and deduce the complexities of being human. An “interaction meeting,” with other lifted youth showcases the social division in the world. Josie’s best friend and neighbour Rick is not lifted like the other children, which alienates him from the others, including being singled out by an irate mother proclaiming he shouldn’t be in attendance to begin with. There’s a casual cruelty to the lifted children’s dynamics. Klara’s position and status as a commodity, an otherwise animate object is confirmed in their disregard for her well-being. Yet, just as in his famous and now classic novel “Never Let Me Go,” Kazuo Ishiguro begins to question what it means to be “human,” when the defining features of the term human being change. This comes to a tipping point during an outing to the waterfall. The Mother (Chrissy) maintains a distant and apprehensive relationship with Klara. Klara’s initial observations of the Mother were defined by appearance and clothes, high ranking office worker, with exhausted and angry eyes. At home Klara observes the at times tense, distant, awkward, and apprehensive relationship between Josie and the Mother. The two visit in the morning at the kitchen island, where the Mother has her coffee before work. Klara remains back by the refrigerator in order to provide privacy. The role Klara plays within the house is both companions, then caretaker for Josie, but also the failsafe and an understudy. Which begs to ask the question, when does the term love cease to exist in the altruistic and virtuous world, and enter a polluted state of sinister selfishness? Despite this, Klara is still a satellite within the household. When visiting another household, the question of how to treat Klara arises to the surface with acerbic poignancy. She’s not really a guest, but more advanced than an appliance to be shoved in the closet. In that regard Klara merely ‘exists,’ on the peripheral on standby. Her role as companion evolves into an empathetic understanding and caring nature in turn for Josie, seeking her salvation through her own spiritual understanding of how the world operates and works.

“Klara and the Sun,” truly showcases the narrative prowess of Kazuo Ishiguro, who as a novelist always has a keen attention for interior narratives, sifting the exterior through an intensely personal and observational character, who does not need to engage in lengthy explanations regarding the world. Klara provides no explanation, only observational data. ‘The Cootings Machine,’ has no utilitarian purpose beyond the production and proliferation of pollution. There is no elucidation regarding what entails ‘lifting,’ procedure or how its completed. Yet it does provide a personal flourish and touch to how the narrator interacts with the world around them. Klara in particular has a unique linguistic identifier when narrating, describing, and understanding the world around her, as can be seen in her compartmentalization of individuals as office workers; or the elderly couple reduced to being Coffee Cup Lady and Raincoat Man. Klara, however, has a special descriptive flourish when describing the sun, moving into almost rudimentary prose poetry, with colour being inflected into the light setting tone and tension. Yet commonly Sun provides and displays nourishment, bathing the house with its richness. “Klara and the Sun,” is companion and spiritual sibling to two of Kazuo Ishiguro’s famous novels “The Remains of the Day,” and “Never Let Me Go.” Yet, where Stevens the butler was reserved and dignified, if not beaten and defeated at the end; and Kathy predestined for tragedy; Klara is luminous glowing spark who perhaps turns the inherent melancholy into a shifting and shimmering state of tempered hope. The dystopian features of Klara’s world exist like flinting shadows along the peripheral. Josie’s father Paul a talented engineer, has been ‘substituted,’ by an alternative. The alterative through another scrap of dialogue surrounding the contention of theatre seats and Klara, is revealed that androids are not just manufactured to provide surrogate companionship for teenagers and children, but have economic measures as well, substituting the workforce where applicable and possible. These are merely quintessential socioeconomic details required to maintain the scenography. In turn, Klara is a fascinating narrator. Distantly intimate she provides keen insight into the human condition, and all the emotional sensibilities and ambiguities they present. Androids, artificial intelligence, even the notion of artificial life are not new literary tropes. The great science fiction master, Philip K. Dick wrote: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” which is the basis for the Bladerunner film franchise, equally dealt with the complication posed by androids and their status to being seen as human or perhaps human enough. Where Philip K. Dick’s novel was noir and explicitly dystopian in both tone and spirit, setting, and atmosphere; “Klara and the Sun,” always carries the lumine of the sun, the radiance of light, and the beat of empathy. Klara in turn becomes a nuanced character complete with pathos as she grapples with the emotional complexities of the human condition, and all the sensibilities associated with them.  

“Klara and the Sun,” is a novel showcasing Kazuo Ishiguro is still at the peak of his literary capabilities. His eternal themes of love, memory, and loneliness will continue to remain relevant preoccupations of the human condition. These existential ponderings have baffled writers, philosophers, and poets for centuries and will continue to in coming centuries. Yet, Ishiguro has a talent for being a compelling writer when handling them, inflecting the narrators of each novel with their own perspective as they review their own condition in relation to the universal and existential complicated question. Where Stevens reservations, dignified stoicism made him incapable of acting and an ostrich when it came to emotional recognition; Klara remains an active and intimate observer, seeking to understand the complexities and nuances of humanity in order to gain a well-rounded grasp of empathy in order to best serve her child. All the while, she provides potent detail for the reader to come to their own conclusions and understandings. All of this wrapped up with an air of futurist fairytale like logic, makes Klara wonderful company and inevitably means the weight of the novel rests on her shoulders. When discussing Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing the former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, the graceful Sara Danius, commented on taking elements of both Jane Austen and Franz Kafka, with a teaspoon of Marcel Proust, and you will have Kazuo Ishiguro, “Klara and the Sun,” is a remarkable example of what it is that Sara Danius is referring to. “Klara and the Sun,” has all the sensibilities of Jane Austen and the existential tension and dread of Franz Kafka. Perhaps its missing the love affair with time and memory as so evident with Proust, but still “Klara and the Sun,” is an exceptional novel. Special praise should be provided to the ending of the novel, which I apprehensively approached fearing that Ishiguro had cheapened out and sprinted towards the ending to be done with it; I couldn’t have been more wrong and founding the ending to being both natural and well earned.

Thank-you for Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

Thursday 10 November 2022

Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field

Hello Gentle Reader,

Emily Dickinson is mythologized in a variety of personas. One is the astute gardener of the soul. Of course, nature and the garden of her Amherst home were dominating features of her intimate landscape. Yet, flowers are often elevated beyond their superficial beauty and take on representation and personification of virtues. By extension the seasons cast their own tint and lens to the light, cloaking the world with a new ambience. Dickinson wrote:

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”

Which harks back to the faint silhouette of Gerbrand Bakker’s novel “The Detour,” where Dickinson haunts the pages with the most transparent of touches. Bakker is a masterful writer of landscape and tangibility with effortless talent; his stone plain prose is never lifeless, but vividly material. Dickinson’s stanza:

“These are the days when skies put on
The old, old sophistries of June, --
A blue and gold mistake.”

The final line: “A blue and gold mistake,” circulates throughout the novel with cryptic and meditative airs. In both instances, Dickinson wrote about the changing airs of the seasons. The referenced “blue and gold mistake,” is Autumn falsifying summer splendor; while the reference to November as the Norway of the year, is less a reference to the Norse mythology or illustrious Viking history. Rather Dickinson sought to reference the notion of a landscape in grayscale. A land of sepia earth, bleak mackerel skies, silver mercurial clouds, the tin rays of a distant sun. This is equally reflected when November comes to pass over John Lewis-Stempel’s field:

“November is one of my favourite months, with its faded afternoons of cemetery eeriness, and its churchy smell of damp musting leaves.”

There is genuine appreciation of the month which perilously exists within the precipice of winter. November, however, is a month sidelined with begrudged exhaustion. Though Lewis-Stempel rejoices the muted exaltation of November with its cemetery eeriness in the light filtered through the grey low clouds; or how the scent of leaves are reminiscent of old churches, uncomfortable, cold and damp carrying on in the pious tradition that worship is service best experienced in discomfort, in order to somehow empathize with the mortification and suffering as experienced by Christ, when in actuality its stingy tight fisted priests, old and musty themselves. Yet, this is not the resounding approval echoed in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables,” when the titular spirited heroine celebrates with characteristic romanticism the regalia of October:

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

November leaves little to the imagination. It’s a month straddling both the bareness of autumn and the frost of winter. Overcast afternoons – to quote John Lewis-Stempel – certainly do fill the day with the solemn ambience of a cemetery. Perfect for a month of remembrance, tribute, and contemplation. Which in turn is an apt description of “Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field.” “Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field,” is a seasonal biography of the farmland around the ancient home of John Lewis-Stempel in Herefordshire, where Lewis-Stempel’s family has lived for 700 years. This immediately sets the scene that the landscape in which John Lewis-Stempel writes about is not just same paltry plot of land, but one of personal significance. Through personal observation, experience, biology and ecological study, literary references, and historical record, John Lewis-Stempel has written a multilayered book of both natural history, personal anecdote, and celebration of the quintessential English countryside and lifestyle, which includes the regular transactions of life and death, even the natural cruelty of the natural world.

Perhaps owing to his career as a farmer, John Lewis-Stempel has a deep-rooted respect for nature and the natural world; thankfully he has a natural affinity or talent with prose. An expert erudite observer with a penchant for poetic display, John Lewis-Stempel provides a refreshing and intimate perspective of the English countryside. The countryside of the United Kingdom always recalls the manicured image of television, the poetry of William Wordsworth, and the pastoral paintings of John Constable. The English Garden is often viewed as the standard for perfection in landscaping architecture, manicured carpets of green lawns. Beautiful spectrum of wildflowers. An abundance of roses overflowing in a vigor. Lanes of lavender stirring in the breeze. The perfect place for a picnic or a cup of tea. Now the most adamant adversarial challengers to the pristine admiration of the English garden criticize it as a legacy item from colonization. A trademark to a colonial past. Such criticism is easy to ignore, for its emblazoned indoctrination and superficial principles, entrenched into the misgivings that outrage and being offended are equivalent to occupying some moral high ground. When it cheapens any merit to their arguments and makes fools of themselves. The admiration of the English garden is no different then admiring Japanese gardens or Italian garden or French gardens. “Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field,” is not idyllic cottage read about the manufactured pastoral, but a book detailing the life of a working English farm, which includes the migratory birds, the sheep and the cows, the rabbits, the foxes, owl, moles, and badgers, which John Lewis-Stempel maintains great respect and adoration for.

Compassionately, John Lewis-Stempel writes about both the fostering and preservation of life on the field, but also of the innate reality of death. One scene recounts John Lewis-Stempel discovering red kites devouring a sheep’s carcass, and the grim task of having to dispose of the body. Perhaps other farms would have fixated on the economics of the death, how much money the premature slaughter would cost their bottom dollar; John Lewis-Stempel instead is disheartened by the loss, not due to profit, but of a sense of regret for the sheep who would be unable to continue. The burial is both an act of dignity and duty. This same compassion can be seen when the veterinarian comes to call. The visit is stressful. By his own admission, Lewis-Stempel states it’s an anxiety inducing time. Readers should abandon, any previous stereotype of a character reminiscent of James Herriot from All Creatures Great and Small. There is no tweed wearing country veterinarian. What John Lewis-Stempel describes instead is equivalent to a grey man, a scientific bureaucrat whose inspection and measurements, decide the fate of cattle. Though it’s a necessary precautionary measure for public health policy and agricultural policy, its depicted with a dispassionate sense of Kafkaesque approach.

As the seasons change, so do the fields. “Meadowland:  The Private Life of an English Field,” begins in January, that hangover of a month; that darkening bitter month and flows throughout the coming months and seasons. The deepening winter of January begins to cede for spring, and by March, the seasonal direction is noticeably changing. The green phantoms of spring give way to the summer and all its glory. It is in this season that after a mechanical failure, John Lewis-Stempel decides to swath the fields and make hay with an old-fashioned scythe. The task is laborious, difficult, as well as time consuming. Despite this, John Lewis-Stempel pushes through, finding further enjoyment in what I could view as misery. Through poetry he incites with great admiration and respect the farm-poets Robert Frost and John Clare and continues with the labour-intensive mediative task. All of which is interrupted by a fleeing vole, who seeing shelter and sanctuary scurries up harvesters’ leg, which causes a great deal of shriek and panicked dancing to dislodge, which explains why former hay cutters tied off their pant legs, meaning John Lewis-Stempel’s chosen attire for the day of shorts would not prevent such incidents.

Voles are not only creatures that Lewis-Stempel stumbles across within the fields or that he encounters. There is the fox family. So beautiful and red, the pups playful and curious. Then of course there are the badgers, whose courtship and relations carries a particular flavour. A pungent musk. Then of course is the warren of rabbits. The industrious mole, however, deserves special attention. Of all the animals in the world, the mole is perhaps the most anthropomorphized animal, depicted as genial, timid, and rather home-loving creature. The velvety subterranean rodent is a staple of English literature, be it from “The Wind in the Willows,” or the theological faith fulfilled moles of William Horwood’s “Duncton Wood.” John Lewis-Stempel provides a more naturalist perspective. When digging fence posts, Lewis-Stempel stumbles across what can only be described as a larder or pantry full of paralyzed earthworms. The fun fact provided by this book, is that moles salvia containing a toxin in it which immobilizes worms, allowing moles to capture them and store them into these underground larders for later consumption. John Lewis-Stempel describes how moles eat worms, a lot like spaghetti, where they squeeze out the earth and other contents out of the worm and then slurp them up like noodles. The mole should not be underestimated. The characterized and personified charming homebody animal, to a subterranean shark, with the squirrel’s passion for storage and savings.

As far as nature writing goes, John Lewis-Stempel is a master. “Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field,” was the book that immediately caught my attention by John Lewis-Stempel, when it was originally published in 2014, the reviews praised the novel for its attentiveness to the natural world, and it would go on to win the Wainwright Prize. Unfortunately getting a reasonable copy of the book turned out to be an adventure. Time and circumstance were not always generous either. Yet after finally getting a hold of it, “Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field,” proved to be well worth the wait. The seasonal cycle is expertly captured with admiration, appreciation, and a sense of passage. John Lewis-Stempel’s prose is uncomplicated, but refreshing in turn, maintain a dutiful understanding to describing the landscape, but also providing necessary commentary on the residents of the fields, both wild and domestic. An interest and understanding of history provide the necessary context regarding the landscape. While being a farmer, provides the professional qualifications to understand and remark on the process of stewarding the land. At no point in time does John Lewis-Stempel indulge into personification of the animals or the fields themselves, but this does not mean he lacks any sense of fondness or respect for them. In turn, where I would have suspected most nature writing to plain, blanched and bleached to the most uniform utilitarian style, John Lewis-Stempel remains engaging while avoiding tiresome plain prose, through flourishes of the poetic and engaging with other literary works to provide yet another level of context to the natural world.

Reading “Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field,” was a relaxing and enjoyable read. John Lewis-Stempel proves that nature writing is a marvelously complex literary genre, one which celebrates the natural world, civilizations stewardship of the land, but also perhaps, reflects on how agriculture has terraformed the natural world in turn. Yet great strides are being made to return landscapes back to their primordial natural prime, as in the case of Scotland, which is set to be the first rewilded nation on the world, through efforts to reintroduce and establish the wilderness of the famous highlands, which for centuries as revered for its untamed wilds. Yet, after centuries upon centuries of human activity and deforestation, Scotland’s once primeval and untamed landscape was reduced to a tame windswept heaths, sparkling lochs, and green hills. Yet in due time, there are plans for the return of wolves and bears. Truly the efforts of reforestation and remediation of the landscape is an example to other nations to take note. As a Canadian, we often pride ourselves on our rich and complex geography. Yet, environmental protections and attitudes towards the natural landscape are not always cut and dry. Still, reading about the caretaking and beauty of a mere microcosm of the English landscape is a remarkable and enjoyable read, which has been perfect company as October’s splendor has been reaped into the barrens of November.  

Thank-you for Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary