Botany and Zoology
It used to be that god was revealed in the wonders of nature; now God was being challenged by those same wonders. Scholars were now required to choose one side or the other.
'You'll curse the insects,' he said at least, 'and you'll curse the natives… The sun will burn you by day and the cold will shrivel you by night. You'll be racked by fever and tormented by a hundred discomforts, but you'll go on. For when a man falls in love with orchids, he'll do anything to possess the one he wants. It's like chasing a green-eyed woman or taking cocaine… it's a sort of madness…'
With the dusk a strange bird came to the island from its nesting grounds on the outer banks. Its wings were pure black, and from tip to tip their spread was more than the length of a man’s arm. It flew steadily and without haste across the sound, its progress as measured and as meaningful as that of the shadows which little by little were dulling the bright water path. The bird was called Rynchops, the black skimmer.
Without supernatural assistance, our fellow creatures can tell us the most beautiful stories, and that means true stories, because the truth about nature is always far more beautiful even than what our great poets sing of it, and they are the only real magicians that exist.
No pain, no death, is more terrible to a wild creature than its fear of man.
Among the myrtles the mantids moved, lightly, carefully, swaying slightly, the quintessence of evil. They were lank and green, with chinless faces and monstrous globular eyes, frosty gold, with an expression of intense, predatory madness in them. The crooked arms, with their fringes of sharp teeth, would be raised in mock supplication to the insect world, so humble, so fervent, trembling slightly when a butterfly flew too close.