Nature Notes: July 3, Happy as a Mackerel

The fire flies have moved on to the next phase...so I took up my book. It offers the following Philosophical Reflection:"42: Fish, by which I indicate all species of it considered as a whole, is for a philosopher an endless source of meditation and of astonishment."The varied forms of these strange creatures, the senses which they lack and the restrictions of those which they possess, their different means of existence, the influence upon this of the place in which they must live and breathe and move about: all these things extend the world of our ideas and the limitless modifications which spring from matter, from movement, from life itself."As for myself, I feel something like a real respect for fish, which comes from my profound persuasion that they are plainly antediluvian creatures; for the great Flood, which drowned our granduncles toward the eighteenth century of the creations of the World, was for the fishes no more nor less that period of joy, conquest, and festivity."

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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