For example, when describing to a hapless class of high school sophomores the other day how language and the exchange of stories allows us to create continuous culture, I said otherwise we would have to learn everything from scratch, “like baby polar bears emerging from a snow den for the first time.” Because, you know, that was the obvious metaphor?
Or how I drive along thinking about narwhal traffic jams. Or I look at my friends’ dogs and think about how odd it was someone looked at those terrible wolves slavering along after caribou or bison and thought, “I want one of those in my house!”
I think it’s the focused nature of this special that makes it stick so much in my mind: not what it’s about so much as that it’s about one thing. The Planet Earth series was a collection of dazzling and fascinating sights, but so different they didn’t leave an overall impression save that of majesty and variety. This is a symphony with overarching themes. It leaves you looking about you for the cycles in your own life, in humans: the frozen winter that gives way, all of a sudden, to a brief, frenetic period of creation and growth. I think how important it is to seize those moments of sunwarmed opportunity and beauty; but also to know that they will, like the summer sun, always come again.