The idea of Otter

I’ve been looking into the River Test (quite literally), well stocked with trout, thinking about how it will be impacted by climate change. I then went up to the cafe at Mottisfont and I came across this poster on the walls there. Dating from 1931, it caught my eye as it seemed to encapsulate so much about our paradoxical attitude to nature. It’s a great example of how we appropriate the idea of ‘Nature’ to promote, well, anything really, at the expense of Nature itself; here, the desire to drive out into the countryside at the weekends to be refreshed by some natural scene or other. Little did we suspect at the time, but those fossil fuels had a sting in their exhaust. So, I went to asked Neil, the river keeper, whether there were infact any otters on the Test. He responded by showing me some otter tracks on the Rectory Beat. So at least that part of the poster is real! [Poster courtesy of the Shell Heritage Art Collection.]

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