By: Raymond Greiner
Habitat forms a foundation for living. Global overview reveals habitats range from Buckingham Palace to cardboard shanties in third world countries. Some live without a place of permanence sleeping in culverts or under highway overpasses. The gentry erect walls surrounding their homes discouraging intrusion. Archeological findings disclose details describing shelters of ancient cultures contrasting with modern times. Contemporary home selection reaches beyond basic comforts becoming an ego driven quest to gain social status and identity.
Aaron Spelling, a highly successful film and television producer is an extreme example. Aaron was horribly bullied in his youth, physically abused by schoolmates, often bedridden recovering from injuries. Aaron was an intense student and reader, developed savvy for business and filmmaking yielding great success and immense wealth. He decided to build the most spectacular home possible. The result was a 56,000 square foot mansion valued at 150,000,000 dollars. This mansion is near Los Angeles where on given nights the homeless exceed ninety thousand. Such examples raise question. Do modern home patterns reflect social advancement or regression?
Early human habituations demonstrated simplistic, uniform social order and conformity. The Adena people existed between 1000-200 BCE occupying the area, which are now central Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky, near the Ohio River. This society epitomized congruity, were cohesive and communal. They were mound builders and Adena artisans carved figures in stone remaining visible along the riverbank. Their housing was especially fascinating. Round structures using poles buried in the ground in a circular shape covered with skins or bark. These homes were strong, uniform and functionally efficient. The needs of the tribal unit occupied a position of priority, disregarding social separation with an absence of dwelling vanity. Archeological theory is that the Adena created living designs for future Native American tribes. So, did the Adena know something modern society has failed to recognize?
Thoreau’s cabin was one room, a fireplace, bed, table and three chairs. Each chair was given a name, solitude, companionship and society. Thoreau practiced austerity; he understood the value of one’s ability to live in comfort with less.
In nature homelessness is nonexistent. All birds, mammals and insects create homes, singularly their most valuable tool for survival, insuring longevity.
Baffin Island is a barren, arctic island with granite boulders and flora of mosses and grasses. Wolves have lived on Baffin Island for thousands of years forming dens among the many boulders. These wolves are classified as Arctic Wolves and do not pack like their southerly cousins the gray wolf; although, male and female hunt as a team and the only game is small rodents, arctic hare and lemmings. Their established dens recycle to the next generation and the pathways in and around the dens have grooves worn. These grooves are in solid granite giving perspective to timeline. The Baffin Island wolves sought a place of safety and comfort. Wolves demonstrate social balance.
On my property is a hay barn, filled with bales of hay. An opossum created its home in the barn digging an access. I often see this opossum in the early PM leaving its home to scavenge for food. Opossums are prehistoric, dating from the dinosaur era. This small mammal survived and the dinosaur perished. They are among my favorite animals, champion survivors.
Nature displays an array of dwellings and it is a fascination to study these unique and creative structures. I found an abandoned sparrow’s nest on the ground. I was astonished at the perfection of this nest. Horsetail hair was used for construction material. Each hair was precisely placed, forming a perfect circle. Human hands would be challenged to form this creation.
Beehives and hornet’s nests are engineering marvels. High in the oak tree is a squirrel’s home, lined with selected insulating materials for warmth and comfort. While hiking my property trail one early spring the ground was covered with a light snow. I came upon a pile of woodchips at the base of a tree. High on this tree was a hole created by a pileated woodpecker. The hole was on the eastern side for protection from prevailing storms.
Humanity has moved away from its natural connections with the earth. Nature clings to the tides of universal consciousness, blending and adapting to its offerings. Human society attempts to adjust its environment to suit perceived needs, exaggerating comforts, distancing from nature’s simplistic lessons. Extravagance is a harbinger for social separation and dysfunction.