This Wonderful, Complex World

By Terry Golson

If there’s anything that can bring home the idea that the natural world has more levels of complexity to it than we pay attention to (or know much about), it’s what you hear in a field by a marsh in Maine in late summer.

This is what it sounds like mid-morning.

*turn up the volume*


Where are the creatures making all of that noise? Who are they? What are they communicating, and to whom?

It’s equally loud at night. But different.


The cacaphony made by these insects makes the world seem very full. But they’re only a small section of the orchestra of life. What about all of the insects what we don’t hear? The quiet ones. Some you see, like fireflies, but most you don’t. Then think about the billions of microorganisms that we don’t see or hear. Every nook and cranny of this world is teeming with life, like those Russian nesting dolls, there are layers in layers in layers.

The more I know, the more astounding this planet is to me. I like to read books to learn about small pieces of it, and I especially appreciate authors who delve into animal cognition, like this title: What The Robin Knows. What should I read next? What’s opened your mind to our wonderful, multilayered, complex, world? I’ll be compiling a list and putting it up on my website. Suggestions, please!

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