Seattle author and urban philosopher Lyanda Lynn Haupt brings her readers an elegant description of wilderness and the beauty of nature visible even in the city. Drawing from her personal experience living in Seattle as a young mother, Haupt’s insight to nature in our urban lives is truly fascinating.
She tells an eloquent tale of crows who care for their sick, play in the wind and sprinklers, and even gather when a family member dies. Creating beauty out of the ordinary and finding nature in everyday life, Haupt urges her readers to keep their eyes and minds open.
Like Henry David Thoreau, Haupt takes her readers on a spiritual and personal journey to gain a better understanding of the world around us and how to better care for it. “Every little thing matters” she says to her 10 year-old daughter when hanging clothes on a line to dry outside.
Perhaps one of the most moving points of Haupt’s philosophy is leaving nature and natural things to be wild. She describes a time when she finds a young, injured crow and brings it inside to care for it. She binds the baby crow’s broken leg and puts her back outside in a safe place for the parents to care for her. She says “It is good to be moved to help, just as it is difficult to know what help might be,” explaining that many people want to instinctually help an injured bird when the best course of action may be as minimalistic as moving the young crow to a better place where the parents can reach it.
Haupt also describes wonder in nature and how we can find wonder in our everyday lives. She says that wonder comes with seeing things around us that we are not used to seeing. She points out that we have wonder when we see wildlife like dear and mountain lions but not in common wild animals like squirrels or crows. For us to see wonder in our urban lives she says “our watching must delve one layer, “or several deeper.”
“This is one of the blessings of the urban nature project: without the overtly magnificent to stop us in our tracks, we must seek out the more subversively magnificent,” Haupt writes. “Our sense of what constitutes wildness is expanded, and our sense of wonder along with it.”
Haupt’s philosophy, while incredibly elegant, is not especially dense which makes for an intriguing while not too challenging read. So whether you are a philosopher, an urban naturalist, or just curious, pick up a copy of Haupt’s Crow Planet before the summer is over and be inspired to observation.
Taylor McAvoy is a Junior at the University of Washington pursuing a bachelors degree in Journalism. She has been a writer and photographer for the university’s newspaper The Daily for a year focusing on editorial reporting and arts event coverage.