Concerning Ecology

Of course, I'm ecology minded! Why wouldn't I be? I was born and reared in a rural Darke County [Ohio] community, and some of the most vivid memories of my childhood are those that deal with nature, its consistencies and inconsistencies.

I grew up in close contact with the ecology, although at the time, we hadn't learned the proper name for it. We used an epithet that seemed to be appropriate. Oh yes, we appreciated the wonders of the natural world; we lived close to the earth—in fact, a little too close at times.

To tell the truth, much of the ecology was our enemy! We fought the blizzards and bitter cold in winter, heat and drought in summer, and all sorts of bugs, worms and other pests in a constant battle all year 'round. We shot crows, foxes, rats, groundhogs, skunks and an occasional prowler or chicken thief. The varmints we couldn't shoot we poisoned or got rid of some other way.

But I believe in protecting the endangered species. It is sad to think of the dinosaur becoming extinct. Probably, nobody cared—after all, no one really tried to save them. But just think how nice it might have been if we all could have one today for a pet! Like some other species, they waxed prolific for many centuries, then degressed to the point where they could no longer hack it and faded into extinction.

But let's face it: Some of them weren't worth shedding a tear for. Consider the dodo bird, for example. It disappeared from our scene about three centuries ago. Just think how many millions of our tax dollars would be spent on the silly thing if it were an endangered species today! Environmentalists who are more ardently dedicated than I am, who have rallied to protect the snail darter and the Egyptian toad (not to mention the New England swamp snake), would have had a great subject in the ill-fated dodo.

But this poor ungainly creature had nobody who cared, nobody to weep for him—alas! It's the law known as "survival of the fittest," and the dodo wasn't fit for anything I can think of!

There are many endangered species that need protection. Take the honey bee, for example. We learned at an early age that these insects, while vexing at times, generally were beneficial. We even built homes for them—and then we stole their honey.

The occasional nest of bumblebees that we exterminated were expendable, but we really didn't pose any threat to the species. In short, bumblebees were fair game. Fighting them was legitimate and a popular sport. We preferred to combat the giant variety and let the smaller and speedier "eye-bungers" alone. Hornets we generally tried to ignore as much as possible. They were fleet of wing, and when they backed into you, they delivered a message!

I also support the clean air and clean water programs. Clean air smells good. We rural people think it is the best stuff there is to breathe. It is especially sweet in the spring.

In big cities, the fragrance that permeates the atmosphere is pretty much the same all year, and usually it's quite pungent. Exhaust fumes, decaying garbage, sewage effluent, and smoke from the fossil fuel burners of industry all blend together to make a semi-gaseous, heavier-than-air mixture that can be inhaled, with effort, by humans and animals that have developed a tolerance for it.

Country people visiting the city for the first time often take a whiff or two and pass out.

I am getting more and more ecology minded every day. One day last week, I accidentally stepped on a bug, poor thing, and it really upset me. I may get over it in time. You can bet your boots, I'm ecology minded!