Ngorongoro Crater, showing wildebeest and zebra herds, migration paths, roads for safari vehicles and the Magdi Lake: photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, 2010
The spaces of the earth remain intact (mostly), but the economies of life of the creatures within those spaces, in complex interaction, in such ragged orders, come increasingly to suggest not a harmony, nor even a sustaining interdependence, but a mere series of dislocated notes in the music of creation, yielding a jarring dissonance, a disturbance that at some moments seems almost to emanate from some buried flaw deep in the core of things as they are.
One need not necessarily get around much to observe the signs of this disturbance, they become routine and incidental and so common as to create, it sometimes seems, a kind of surrounding atmosphere of which one may well remain oblivious, but to which, at some deeper level, no conscious being may successfully pretend to be immune.
The deer that come down from the hills at night, ghostly presences that move so lightly across the landscape few humans ever know they are here, are always aware that we are here, and wisely stay well clear of us.
Encountered by surprise while browsing neighbourhood foliage in the night, they freeze, ears cocked, senses navigating the moment, always ready for flight.
Sometimes I stop and pause, they stop and pause, I talk quietly to them, after a while they apprehend there is nothing to be afraid of, they grow tired of paying attention to this foolish intruder upon their night world and go back to nibbling on the tender bushes of the residential classes.
There was a congenial man who in the early days of children's television was known for his gentle and kindly, welcoming way of addressing visitors, real and virtual alike: "Would you be my neighbor?"
Up against that, there is the supposedly sensible (and certainly very Yankee) hard-edge adage of the poet Frost, "Good fences make good neighbors".
Sun sets over the old medina in central Tripoli: photo by Patrick André Perron, 2007