There was a previous Christmas post here today, but because I couldn’t get WordPress’s block editor to accept a Rudyard Kipling poem in stanza form, I have removed it.

So I’m returning to my Brooklyn, New York lady feeding her pigeons on Christmas morning a few years ago. I hope she was able to go out again this morning.

As someone who has also been feeding birds all his life, I have always been offended by the people who want to discourage this.

I do accept that in some locations pigeons and Canada geese should not be fed. Their populations can really get out of control (though they never get near our current 7.8 billion).

But feeding birds is one of the ways in which people have been connecting with Nature for thousands of years. I find it remarkable that so many methods we have developed for such connecting – hunting, picking wildflowers, fishing, farming, etc. – are increasingly discouraged.

How is farming discouraged? Read Wendell Berry’s book, The Unsettling of America, and you will see how for the past century factory farming has progressively decreased the number of people living on the land. Never mind that, according to Berry, the small family farm remains more efficient than factory farms (partly because factory farms degrade the soil, ultimately destroying it, while most small farmers understand the need to renew their soil).

As for hunting, when I say it is discouraged, I’m not referring to controls that protect wild populations. All serious hunters, at least in North America, understand the need for regulation, and for the protection of habitat. The best hunters love wild places and I have wished for a long time that they and the naturalist community would realize how much the two groups have in common.

And, as for wildflowers, when I was a boy growing up in the 1950s, we were taught in school which flowers were safe to pick and which weren’t. Why is this not done now? Flowers like Queen Anne’s Lace, goldenrod, chicory, daisies, white asters, buttercups, red clover, and many more, all of which small children love to pick and arrange in small bouquets, are not in the slightest danger. My two daughters love nature as much as I do, and the reason is partly because I let them pick those flowers, catch fish with me, etc.

Anyway, this Christmas morning in 2020 I much prefer my Brooklyn lady (who has also brought a treat for the cat you see on her left) distributing her presents, to more reports of Covid 19 chaos and political corruption.

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