The standard of beauty is the entire circuit of natural forms, the totality of nature…nothing is quite beautiful alone…but beautiful in the whole. A single object is only so far beautiful as it suggests this universal grace. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature”
On Saturday Mai and I headed south to two beautiful places–Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and Quebradas backcountry byway. The roads at Bosque del Apache are open to cycling this time of year, when the Sandhill Cranes are in their Arctic habitat. The Bosque’s wetlands–engineered in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps to mimic naturally occurring flood plains, and incorporated in 1939 by Roosevelt as part of the national system of lands dedicated to wildlife–nurture wildlife year round, and are surging with Spring runoff. We saw Snowy egrets, Great egrets, a wild turkey, ducks, and many smaller birds. With the new greens leafing out and wildflowers shooting up, it is serene and spectacular this time of year.
Bicycles are a perfect vehicle for exploring the refuge. We stopped often to get a closer look and listen. Details of the landscape appear and register with us the more time we spend there. Gliding by bicycle, wide open to the world, with the warm sun caressing our skin, is sensational.
We came home through Quebradas, and stopped often to walk. Flowers are opening, intricately timed for pollinators. The Ocotillos are not quite out, still waiting for hummingbirds. But the Creosote, Scarlet Beehive Cactus, yuccas, agaves, Indigobush, Lechuguillas and more are setting the desert afire in color this Spring, a time of quiet anticipation and emerging possibilities.
It’s amazing to be outside and see how it all fits together, and experience nature flowing into our lives. These places are so healing. Our civilization’s future depends on better including nature when designing places for people. Each is a part of each, and our species requires great habitat too, like all forms of life on earth. If our civilization–the things we do, build and make– invests more in ecosystem services, natural capital, and wildlife, that’s an indicator of progress.