I’m reading The Invention of Nature, Alexander Humboldt’s New World, by Andrea Wulf. And I’m captivated with it. I never even heard the name Alexander Humboldt, yet I’m learning that many of the ideas about and ways we now understand the natural world are because of Humboldt.
In the late 18th and early 19th century, when nature was divided into categories and seen as separate mechanisms, he believed the natural world was all interconnected and spent his life proving it. He also saw the devastating impact man was having on the environment through farming and logging and was an early abolitionist. After his travels to the America’s and meeting the indigenous people there, he was very alone in knowing them as equals, not the feeble minded savages they were seen as at the time.
And he’s a wonderful personality too, creative and curious, obsessive, driven, and generous. A scientist (before the word scientist was coined) he collected , documented and measured everything around him including the blueness of the sky. But he also believed in the importance of the imagination and his books often read like poetry. His writing influenced, Darwin, Walt Whitman, Poe and Thoreau, just to name a few.
I think Alexander Humboldt was on my mind this morning when I went out to take my Monday Morning Video. Is it too weird, I asked Jon, to talk about frozen manure. But I was just observing my environment, (like Humboldt did) the changes in the weather since yesterday seem drastic. As evidenced by the frozen water in the heated chicken bowl, the frozen pockets of earth in the barnyard that yesterday were mud, my frozen fingers and the frozen manure.
At the end of the video my voice gets drowned out by the wind. Maybe it’s for the best I thought, unlike Humboldt who would have been inspecting at it under a microscope, I only have so much to say about frozen manure.