Albert Einstein by Don McLeese

By Don McLeese

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They eat our crops, transmit disease, and drive us away from our pleasures: although in the bold stare of nature they are effective employees.  . then we must turn around and invent new poisons. Insects are redoubtable enemies. We are never quite sure which of us is in the ascendancy, just as we are never sure of what they are. Page 22 Still we can look and marvel at their complex detail: these wings like lace or spun glass; wings cut short and wide or thin as a hair; wings with the pattern of flowers, or veins of a leaf; bodies round and narrow, oval or oblong; strange truncated abdomens; huge, compound eyes; legs impossibly thin and long, or unbelievable in number and still coordinated; heads like alligators; bodies tike sticks; false eyes; false horns; repulsive, intangible, unreal.

His story begins in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where he was born in 1915. Raised in New York City (his father worked as an archaeologist for the Museum of Natural History), Hay traces his interest in nature to vacations at his grandfather's summer house in New Hampshire. "First enchantments outlive all the later judgements we make about the world," he writes. And the spell of summer days along the shore of Lake Sunapee hangs over all his work. "What I am really doing," he writes, "is trying to keep open to the unexpected.

The day is hot and shining. The oak leaves, no longer fresh and young, but spotted with growths, chewed by insects, frayed and scarred, are still tough, deeply green, harnessing the sun, under a stir and slide of air. Two big red-tailed hawks sail high overhead screaming constantly A blue jay screams, in a fair likeness. The hawks wheel lower down along the trees, inside the horizon. Then two little tree sparrows flit by Insects drone, stir, and buzz. There is a dragging, rattling sound of leaves as a box turtle moves slowly along.

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