Nature’s Profligacy


I am spending the last day of childcare deep in thesis reading. We had a rather ostentatious thunderstorm this morning, which broke the heat wave, and I am cuddled under a blanket because the fan is still blowing full force on me, but I am too settled into this couch to move my lap desk, cross the room, and turn it off. All I can see out the window are trees and clouds and the occasional swooping bird. This is, I think, the perfect way to read Annie Dillard.

“Nature is, above all, profligate. Don’t believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a deranged manic-depressive with limitless capital. Extravagance! Nature will try anything once. This is what the sign of the insects says. No form is too gruesome, no behavior too grotesque. If you’re dealing with organic compounds, then let them combine. If it works, if it quickens, set it clacking in the grass; there’s always room for one more; you ain’t so handsome yourself. This is a spendthrift economy; though nothing is lost, all is spent.”

— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

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