“One should pay attention to even the smallest crawling creature for these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us.” ~ Black Elk
Natty Bumppo, the child of European parents, was raised among Delaware Indians. Nathaniel “Natty” Bumppo hapopened to be the fictional protagonist of James Fenimore Cooper’s pentalogy of novels; the Leatherstocking Tales. How might Natty have been described; “In short, he was a noble shoot from the stock of human nature, which could never attain its proper elevation and importance, for no other reason than because it grew in the forest. McGregor”
Henry David Thoreau’s “ Walden ” describes a “philosophical” rendition of the forest looking at the tradition of “nature versus civilization, simplicity versus luxury, innocence versus corruption.Thoreau finds moral value away from the life of the towns and cities, and finds recourse in an ideal and indeed transcendental vision of natural harmony.Cartwright”
You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.~ Henry David Thoreau
Does the character of Natty Bumppo personify “at once the man of the future and the repository of the values of the past”? Does the portrayal of Natty reconcile the dichotomy between two allegiances ~ nature versus civilization.
Cooper writes in “Deerslayer” “The arches of the woods, even at high noon, cast their sombre shadows on the spot, which the brilliant rays of the sun that struggled through the leaves contributed to mellow, and if such an expression can be used, to illuminate. It was probably from a similar scene that the mind of man first got its idea of the effects of gothic tracery and churchly hues, this temple of nature producing some such effect, so far as light and shadow were concerned, as the well-known offspring of human invention.”
This passage seems to echo even yet, the words of Richard St. Barbe Baker, “In that vast evergreen forest Nature works in perfect rhythm; roots digging deep or exploring nearer the surface for food and moisture. Imperceptibly Nature builds those mighty pillars with aisle innumerable, arches multiplex, in the cathedral of the forest.”
The industrial revolution dramatically changed Europe between c1750-c1850, and came to North America with time lags due to the course of travel for that era. What is it that Thoreau, Baker, and Cooper have found in the forest? What is the contrast felt by novelists and landscape artists of the nineteenth century, and personified in Natty Bumppo?
Does not even the name of this fictional character embrace the “natty” refined characteristics of the cultural stereotype of the immigrant European. What are the synonyms of “Natty” are they not smart, stylish, fashionable, dapper, debonair, dashing, spruced up, well dressed, chic, elegant, trim. And “bumppo” what imagery does the word bumppo evince ~ the cultural stereotype of the bumpkin an “unsophisticated or socially awkward person from the countryside” or the wilderness. What are the synonyms offered up for bumpkin? Does not the thesaurus offer up rube, lout, hick, chawbacon, churl, clodhopper, cornball, countryman, hayseed, hillbilly, provincial, rube, rustic, yokel, boor, clod, gawk, lout, oaf; greenhorn, tenderfoot, peasant, peon, backwoodsman, mountaineer?
How do you feel emotionally on reading the two lists of words describing Natty, and the derogatory Bumppo? Which list do you resonate with if you were to describe yourself? Which list do you reject as a description of your own embodiment? Do you still feel the same way after reading Baker, Thoreau and Cooper? Mayhaps even include Ralph Waldo Emerson in this reading list.
Wilkie Collins describes James Fenimore Cooper literary works, Leatherstocking Tales, as ” the greatest artist in the domain of romantic fiction yet produced by America.Twain” Why? What is the nostalgia?
What has been gained, by civilization and what has been lost? What is the reconciliation between the two?
As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees. Valerie Andrews
Cartwright, John H. and Brian Baker. Literature and Science: Social Impact and Interaction Science and society. Science and society. Impact and interaction Edition illustrated Publisher ABC-CLIO, 2005 ISBN 185109458X, 9781851094585
Kennedy, Martha. Authors
McGregor, Gaile. The Noble Savage in the New World Garden: Notes Toward a Syntactics of Place Publisher Popular Press, 1988. ISBN 087972417X, 9780879724177 P.130
Twain, Mark. Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences
Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today
“I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.”
― Aldo Leopold
If we intend to provide a better life, and a better world, for future generations, we can’t ignore the quality of the environment we leave them. John Kasich
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Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
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If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque please to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund” (MVA RSBBAA trust fund) and mail it to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area c/o Meewasin Valley Authority, 402 Third Ave S, Saskatoon SK S7K 3G5. Thank you kindly!
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It is not a farce.…”To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.” ~Terry Tempest Williams