British poet Alice Oswald has a collection called Falling Awake. It’s an excellent title, and a compelling read. I’m considering what falls in fall. I feel myself tumbling. I fell off the blog-wagon and bumped my tailbone and then my elbow. Ouch! No one noticed. The gathering of nectar continues, the formation of melon flesh, the shaping of tunnels through thick dead grass. Air falls away as a giant puffball swells. A ripe chokecherry drops from its stem. What falls? Everything, everywhere on the surface of earth,or, as Nigel Calder wrote in Einstein’s Universe, “falling is the most natural way for objects to behave and our main mode of travel through the universe, aboard our planet.”
When wasps have a housing crisis, they promptly gather materials and build safe, appropriate dwellings that are elegantly and efficiently designed. They’re also free! Actually, wasps don’t have housing crises (unless they have habitat crises, which is another story). Meanwhile, humans have made housing into an industry: it’s complicated, expensive, and of course, exploitable. The results have been mixed: very good for some humans, not good for others, and ultimately not great for the rest of the living world. Gaston Bachelard wrote that “a dreamer might say that the world is the nest of mankind”. My nest, your nest, our nest; it’s in a sad state. Do we patch and repair like the mud dauber? Start over each season like the yellow jackets?