The normalcy of emptiness

The capacity of the human race to generate a sense of sublime normalcy is unlimited and rather frightening. As another 30+ British insects are added to the red list of endangered species threatened with extinction the countryside takes another step to becoming nothing more than a painted backdrop lacking the diversity of colour, sound and movement that it should have, a mere landscape photograph which will still be beautiful, but only in the purest coldest aesthetic sense when turning a corner just presents the same flat panorama at a slightly different angle.

Most of these species may only be leaf beetles, all of them measured in millimetres, spending their time high in a tree or under leaves at your feet, you may go your entire life and never see them but the fact is they are (at the moment) still there. You could turn that same corner and suddenly be aware of one climbing your sleeve after brushing that shrub, a little speck of determined marching green making its way still as unaware of you as you were of it, instantly adding depth, colour and life to that beautiful landscape photo.

Scorpion fly by G Watkeys

Scorpion fly by G Watkeys

Lose these insects and you begin to lose the guts of the world, the pattern and form of the world is immeasurably enfeebled when there is nothing to surprise and delight.

The truly frightening bit is how quickly this state of affairs will become normal and it is so very difficult to fight normal. Normal is the way things should be isn’t it? Normal is well, normal. Soon it will be normal to have no dawn chorus, no frogspawn, no drumming woodpeckers and no little iridescent green beetles.

I hope that my writing about the things I see in Taf Fechan (and I have just seen my 300th species on the reserve since I became a volunteer warden) will help in a small way to fight off that sense of the normalcy of emptiness that is slowly but inexorably creeping up on the world.

Graham Watkeys, Volunteer Reserve Warden for Taf Fechan