Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/471

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
453
BIRDS OF THE GRASS LANDS.

fancy that he is a being without limitations, the center around which the universe gravitates, the sovereign for which all Nature has been created. He will, in fact, constitute a separate kingdom—the human kingdom.

Even then, in the midst of his triumphs, his body will continually call him back to himself, and the anatomist will still be able to cry to him, in words but little changed from an expression of Broca's, "Remember that you are one of the animals!"—Translated for The Popular Science Monthly from the book L'Homme dans la Nature.

 
Rule Segment - Span - 40px.svg Rule Segment - Span - 40px.svg Rule Segment - Flare Left - 12px.svg Rule Segment - Span - 5px.svg Rule Segment - Circle - 6px.svg Rule Segment - Span - 5px.svg Rule Segment - Flare Right - 12px.svg Rule Segment - Span - 40px.svg Rule Segment - Span - 40px.svg

BIRDS OF THE GRASS LANDS.
By Prof. SPENCER TROTTER.

AN eastern North American landscape is chiefly characterized, at least in the more settled portions of the country, by its diversified aspect of woods and fields. All other distant features gradually melt away and leave to the involuntarily closing eye a checkered expanse of darkly shaded masses and broadly open sunlit spaces. In the wilder parts, along the ranges and spurs of the Appalachians, the forests still hold undisputed sway over the fields, yet surely and rapidly the venerable woods are falling away as the axe sweeps with ever-widening swath along the clearing's edge. Year after year we have gone to some beloved spot of wilderness and learned to love the great, tall hemlocks that were ever whispering their secret to the wind. Some spring morning we are again at the old place; alas! what a pitiful sight awaits us! The giants of a hundred springs are fallen, and their long, white trunks and ghostly arms make a picture more desolate than the deepest gloom of the forest. To me the sighing of the hemlocks is a death song—a melancholy prophecy of the fate that awaits them.

The forest does not yield without a struggle. The tangled underwoods and seedlings so long stunted in the evergreen shade spring up with renewed life in the refreshing sunlight, and a sturdy "second growth" takes in a few years the place of the primeval forest. These are the woods of oak, hickory, and chestnut; of maple, birch, beech, and gum; of dogwood and sassafras, tulip, elm, ash, and linden, that invite us with their shade, their cool depths and reaches of sunlight, their fragrant blossoms and mystery of hidden things, from the broad fields of grass and grain that encompass them on every side.

Not less diverse than the woods and fields themselves are the living things that people them. Each offers its own peculiar environment and each has brought its own peculiar changes. There