Ruskin believed that the natural world was a divine gift. He believed that mankind had inherited an obligation to care for nature and treat it well. If we treated it well, then it, in turn, would give forth an abundance that was life-giving and affirmative. If we treated it badly, then it could become malevolent.
In Ruskin’s view, nature could be read as a book if only we had eyes to see it properly. Accordingly, Ruskin studied the natural world with the closest of attention. He looked closely at the details of plants, rocks and animals, determining the things that they told us about themselves and their environment. He also sought to understand our own relationship to the many different forms of life around us. He looked to mythologies, folk tales, religions, art and literature for what they told us of the changing face of this relationship. He sought to illuminate the way we could practice good stewardship of nature and husbandry of the land.