Commonplace Nature, Close at Hand: Thinking about Leonard Dubkin

Michael Bryson, writing for the Center for Humans & Nature:

As someone who often yearns to travel and seek adventure in distant and topographically complex locales but rarely gets such opportunities, I also am drawn to Dubkin’s forthright and instructive “credo” in the book’s introduction (The Natural History of a Yard):

It seems to me that people are forever traveling great distances, and journeying to strange countries, to see things that, if they only knew it, exist beside their own doorstep. The common animals, birds and insects that are found in a little yard in the city are as fascinating to watch, and as fruitful in affording the careful observer a glimpse into some of the mysteries of nature, as are the rare and uncommon creatures of some far-off land. Whether one goes to nature for truth, or for beauty, for knowledge or for relaxation, these things can be found in a yard in the city as well as in a tropical jungle, for they exist in the common, simple, everyday things all about us, as well as in the rare and exotic. (p. 6)

Notable here is the argument that commonplace nature—the familiar (and, implicitly, unloved species)—holds as much interest and value as the charismatic species endemic to foreign locales.

Always in motion is the yard. Blind we are, if beauty of the common animals we do not see.