A fellow farmer, one who is struggling with the blackbirds, said to me, “Nature sucks!”The nature he was referring to is the birds’ ability to capitalize on the farmers’ innovations. The seed hasn’t even germinated, and already it is coming under attack. Thanks to a precision seeder, that puts seed at a calibrated distance—the bird need only find two seeds, then knows the distance and can count it off, I think in footsteps, from seed to seed. In this way, a flock can pull an acre of corn or beans in a morning’s time.
“Oh, come on,” I protested. “Look at the barn swallows.” One goes sailing past—the longest evenings of the year, and they are fledging and feeding and protecting their air space, swooping, fast and low and noisily, over the sleeping shop cats.
But I know what my friend means. I, having stepped into long grass at a field edge, was reeling from the assault of what seemed like a hundred tick bites. He repeated himself, laughing but showing his exasperation. “Nature sucks! I hate nature.”
This is kind of an act: Joking in this exaggerated way is a form of stress relief. It’s funny for us to curse it, because in reality we can’t. Farmers spend more time praying to nature than any other god. While it is the floor we stand on, nature is also the thing beyond our reach.
Summer arrived with summer. The multifloral rose is still heavy on the air, the earwigs force their way into your laundry, and Sagg fills with brave people. The omnipresent police force is now omni-busy and thus less likely to pull a local over for an offensive bumper sticker: “I drove through Sagaponack and all I got was this lousy ticket.” Now, nabbing thrill-seekers, their flashing lights look almost beautiful when buffered by the shade trees.