B / CHRONICLESnPERSPECTIVEnA TIME TO REAP by Thomas FlemingnIdo not know what the city-bred recollect of childhood,nbut one of my earliest memories is of a sunny Easternmorning, when I was no more than three or four years old,nstanding in an unpaved lane that led down to a tiny farm:nthe bright new grass was pushing through last year’snburnt-over stubble; the chickens muttered approvingly aboutnthe weather; and—though this seems hardly likely so closento the shore of Lake Superior—a few wild flowers hadnbegun to unfold at the edge of the ditch.nA little later there were the summer days spent on anSwedish farm owned by a deer-hunting friend of my fathernor the July afternoon I stood boiling from the waist up whilenthe rest of me froze in the Brule River, waiting patiently fornthe trout that never came. When I think of those days Inalways see birches on a bluff over an expanse of blue water.nIn later years it was the sea, vast and crystalline, thatnnnspread before our house in South Carolina, and behind usnwhat Charleston’s poet Henry Timrod described asnA league of desolate marshland, with its lushnHot grasses in a noisome tide-left bed,nAnd faint warm airs that rustle in the hushnLike whispers round the body of the dead.nThere is no point pretending indifference to such things.nEven the hardest man will notice the landscape, and morenthan a few military veterans devote themselves to a gardennin their declining years. As Edward Wilson reminds us, mannis instinctively a naturalist, innately a lover of nature, and thenmore we warp ourselves away from the fields and rivers ofnour race’s childhood, the lonelier we become; the morenhours we spend poring over catalogs from L.L. Bean andnAbercrombie and Fitch; and the more eagerly we await then