Friday, September 13, 2013

A Naturalist on Rona, and a Naturalist in Melbourne

I confess I haven't been to Scotland. For reasons unknown ( a certain purity/single-mindedness/wildness? ), it has held my imagination.
"Sir Frank Fraser Darling ( born Frank Darling, 23 June 1903 - 22 October 1979 )" - so Wikipedia tells me - "was an English ecologist, ornithologist, farmer, conservationist and author, who is strongly associated with the highlands and islands of Scotland..."
"Fraser Darling was born in the loft of a farm stable near Chesterfield in northern England, the illegitimate son of Harriet Ellse Cowley Darling and Frank Moss. His mother was the daughter of a prosperous family from Sheffield. Her family wanted the child to be fostered and forgotten about."
How careless it is to be correct.
"Rona is said to have been the residence of Saint Ronan in the eighth century. A tiny early Christian oratory which may be as early as that date, built of unmortared stone, survives virtually complete on the island - the best preserved structure of its type in Scotland." ( Wikipedia again ). Is it perhaps true that a certain type of Christianity persevered or re-appeared here, in the person of Frank Fraser Darling, a Christianity that sees love for all of the world as its purpose?
Forgive me for not yet knowing enough about the author of A Naturalist on Rona - Essays of a Biologist in Isolation. To continue: his mother "would not cooperate and refused to part with Frank. His father, whom he never met, left for East Africa around the time of his birth, and was killed in action on the Kenya-Tanganyika border in 1917."
This is "Fianuis, Rona." I don't know what it would have been like to have grown without a father, but it may have well have led me also to an island. As it is, as it was and has been, my own relationship with my father drove me towards supporting the environment, to fighting for it, for I felt there was little point in succeeding in the world without due conscience.
I lament the days that have gone, when the world was an easier, simpler place, or so it would seem, wouldn't it, what with Mrs Fraser Darling chopping wood without regard to her public image? I lament that our increasing cleverness often lacks a sense of guardianship. I support those naturalists and environmentalists who've stood out in the cold and bleakness, or in the burning light and aridity, who've loved to hear the crashing waves, the calls of the wild, who've taken the time to stop and listen to their surroundings and who've decided their own needs can fit into those of that world, without any compulsion to obliterate it.


  1. Amen. That is all I can say... Amen.

    1. Yeah, Paul. Something about the word 'Amen' suggests acceptance and a stopping, a preparedness to allow, a willingness to blend/cooperate.

  2. 'How careless it is to be correct'. Oscar Wilde could have said that. But he didn't. You did. And it's wonderful. I haven't been to that island but I've been around there, and always want to go back, and further north as well. Although probably not in winter. It's a perfect landscape - wild, windswept, isolated. Perfect for just sitting and meditating. In some ways the world in the past may have been easier, but not if you happened to be born a bastard.

    1. Sue I wish to heck I could get to Scotland, and am so glad to hear you've been there and know what I'm talking about. I'd not ever want to be born a bastard, but it's amazing how far Fraser Darling went, with that disadvantage.
      Thankyou. For all the correctness of the past, which I've soaked up generally without much criticism, there are a heck of alot of holes in it, in that past, which we revere.

  3. Dear Faisal,
    I find that in reading this post, I agree with Paul: Amen.

    'If I were asked to interpret briefly, what I mean by wilderness and plenty, I'd reply population, pollution, and the planet's generosity. . . '

    A great lecture given by Sir Frank:

    1. Dear Kirk,
      that's very kind of you.
      I'm going to listen to that lecture.
      The planet is exceedingly generous to us, we who neglect it. I only hope we might one day pay due homage.

    2. I listened to it. I did like his clipped accent with the slight northern burr but I have to say that I didn't agree with every thing he said.