Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Berry's writing is deep and wide like the Kentucky river where he has made his home. Diverse topics and personal stories flow like ripples and currents joining together in one major theme: our relationship with nature, what it has become, but also what it can be, once was, could be again. Published in 1965, the book is a collection of Berry's earliest essays and is jampacked with insights and ideas ---ideas that are more timely and urgent than ever. All the more shocking that none of us seemed able to find the book in our local libraries! So with purchased copies in hand, we shared passages that we found exceptional such as:
The great increase of our powers is itself maybe the most immediate cause of our
loss of vision. It must be a sort of natural law that any increase in man's
strength must involve a lengthening of his shadow; as we grow in power, we are
pursued by an ever growing darkness.
Berry describes our collective errors with an eloquent, slap-in-the-face accuracy. But he balances that bitter medicine with a balm to the spirit, a prescription for salvation for himself and for us:
And so, difficult and troubling as the times are, I must not neglect to say
that even now I experience hours when I am deeply happy and content, and
hours where I feel the possibility of greater happiness and contentment than
I have yet known. These times come to me when I am in the woods, or at work
on my little farm. They come bearing the knowledge that the events of man
are not the great events; that the rising of the sun and the falling of the
rain are more stupendous than all the works of the scientists and the
prophets; that man is more blessed and graced by his days than he can ever
hope to know; that the wildflowers silently bloom in the woods, exquisitely
shaped and scented and colored, whether any man sees and praises them or
not. A music attends the things of the earth. To sense that music is to be
near the possibility of health and joy.
Not to be outdone by Berry, we all agreed on the importance of balancing literary "calls" to responsiblity and stewardship with a straightforward celebration of the endless beauty and fascination of nature. Our line up of primary reading selections for the early months of 2010 are as follows:
January 2010 Bernd Heinrich: Winter World
February 2010 Mary Oliver: Owls and Other Fantasies
March 2010 E.O. Wilson: Naturalist (his autobiography)
April 2010 Barbara Kingsolver: Small Wonders
(NOTE: Each month's book will be discussed at the meeting held on the FIRST SUNDAY of the following month. Example, January's book selection Winter World will be the topic of discussion at the February meeting.)
Cheers to the Readers' Club members and all the great authors we have enjoyed in 2009. Our January 2010 meeting will cap off our first year of monthly get togethers!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
New members always welcome! Since our meeting is at a private home, new members can attend as a guest of a current members. If you are a person interested in joining us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
If you have previously attended a meeting, email a query for directions to the location.
Hope to see you there!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
This meeting is at a current member's private home by invitation only, so directions will not be posted on the blog. Any persons who are interested in joining the group may attend this meeting as a guest of a current member. If you wish to attend as a guest, please email email@example.com for further information.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Winn is a nature columnist for the Wall Street Journal. She has written a nature blog on happenings in Central Park for years now: check it out here. She also has a newer nature book out entitled Central Park in the Dark. There is a link to her bio on her website (see above). For reviews of the book click on her photo at right.
The key action in Red Tails in Love takes place in the spring. However, October is a great time in our area to watch out for migrating hawks. We won't be able to organize an official PVNWG outing this month as we did for mosses in September but members are encouraged to get out there and look for hawks!
Washington's Monument near Boonsboro, MD is a favored spot to see hawks, as well as other birds of prey as they ride the thermals southward along the ridgetops. Waggoner's Gap and Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania are enticing as well for those of us with the time, energy and gas money to make the trek. I can vouch for all three of these sites as exciting places to visit. Hawk Mountain has a beautiful nature center with naturalist talks using live rehabilitated birds.
For all you ever wanted to know about hawks check out Blakeman on Hawks. Also see Hawk Watch Association. Here is the site they list for West Virginia in Monroe County: Hanging Tower. If anyone has a tip for a good nearby site, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post it.
Enjoy the book and please note that our next meeting is on NOVEMBER 1, site to be announced.
Monday, September 28, 2009
We also extended our selection of authors through January 2010. We decided to alternate 'vintage' nature writers with more contemporary ones, and also alternate male and female authors.
Upcoming for October is the already selected Marie Winn and her book Redtails in Love.
The remaining months each have a main book selection but any writing by the selected author will serve as well.
November- Wendell Berry (The Long-Legged House)
December-Diane Ackerman (The Moon By Whale Light)
January- Bernd Heinrich (Winter World).
A major change is a shift of the meetings to the FIRST SUNDAY of the month. This change will better accomodate the upcoming November and December holidays. We will not meet in October. The next meeting will be Sunday, November 1, when we will discuss Marie Winn's book. Site to be announced on the website.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Please bring your journals and any other nature writing you may have done in August. Read over your work and ask yourself these questions:
- What are the themes that seem to reoccur?
- What types of things do I notice and write about? People, place, weather, bugs, plants, colors, smells, emotions, facts, etc.
- What did I learn about nature?
- About journaling?
- About writing and my own writing process? About myself?
If someone else was reading your journal, what conclusions might they draw about your relationship with nature?
We will share our answers at the meeting. Each member also was asked to bring a short excerpt from any author's work that provides inspiration for her/himself to write about nature. Bring any nature or writing/journaling related books or articles for "show and tell," to loan or pass on. Don't forget water and a camp chair. Lastly, bring a friend! New members always welcome!
Look forward to seeing you! Sandy aka Trillium http://trilliumtravels.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
While we all had praise for Hollows, Peepers and Highlanders, -(the chapter on cannibalistic fireflies made a special impression)- we noted a trend of monotony in the style and content of the list of books we have been reading.
Therefore, as a group we will not be reading Scratching the Woodchuck for August. To become more in line with the "nature writing" part of our group's name, our challenge for the coming month is for each of us to make one entry in our nature journals each day! The entry can be very short, even a phrase, but should relate somehow to our personal relationship with nature--thoughts, feelings, sensory experiences, facts learned. Nature as broadly defined. Journal entries will be shared at the next meeting on August 30, 3PM at Yankauer. It will be fun to see the themes that run through each member's entries.
Each member is asked to bring a short excerpt from any author's work that provides inspiration for her/himself to write about nature.
Plans are in the works for a possible nature writing/journaling "retreat" for autumn. Stay tuned.
Please email Sandy at email@example.com with any comments or suggestions.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Naturalist George Constantz was born in Washington, DC but spent part of his childhood in Mexico and Colombia. With degrees in biology and zoology, he has worked as a teacher, ecologist, researcher and writer. Active in efforts to conserve water quality in West Virginia, he founded the nonprofit Cacapon Institute and manages the Education program at Canaan Valley Institute. He and his wife, Nancy Ailes, live in the Cacapon River watershed. See author and book related links at left. (Photo Credit: Ken Thomas, Wikimedia Commons)
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
New members are welcome! Bring any books you would like to suggest for our reading list.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
He and his wife, Barbara Dodge Borland, who was also a writer, lived on a 100 year old farm in the far northwest corner of Connecticut, at the edge of the Berkshires. He and Barbara moved to the farm after he had a life-changing encounter with a serious illness. Their land included one side of a mountain and fronted the Housatonic River. Borland cherished his farm as a "home at the end of nowhere," with an unmarked mailbox. There is a room devoted to Borland at the Audubon Center in Sharon, CT. There visitors can view mementos and objects from his small second floor study, including his manual typewriter. (See author links at left for photos.)
Borland writes in an easy, accessible style. Reading his work you often feel as if you have received an intimate letter from a close friend. Beyond Your Doorstep is considered a classic of nature writing. The book's backcover describes it -- "A stylishly well written guide to, and meditation on, the flora and fauna of the countryside, Beyond Your Doorstep is now more timely than ever as a source of inspiration for anyone with a desire to know more about the living things we so often look at but never actually see or understand. "
Borland tells us his book is, "primarily about the countryside, not the wilderness; countrysides are common and within reach of almost everyone."
First Chapter: The Country House. "The newcomer to the country will find the first signs of "wild life" in his own house. Even before he explores the dooryard he can sharpen his eyes indoors. He may be surprised at the outsiders who want to share that house with him."
A sampling: Do animals have emotions? What about insects? Are humans part of nature? If we are different from the rest of nature, how? Why is writing and reading about nature important? Can new technology help us reverse damage to the ecosystem? What else needs to happen? Are animals much smarter than we know? The ethics of cowbirds. Tool kit making chimps. Do animals watch people like we watch animals?
We missed those of you who couldn't make it!
Watch the blogspot for info about June's book selection, Hal Borland's Beyond My Doorstep. The next meeting is scheduled for 3:00 PM, Sunday, June 28, again at Yankauer. But check the blogspot closer to the date for any changes. We will be arranging a back up location in the event of rain. New members always welcome.
Friday, May 29, 2009
The Four Dimensions of Nature Writing: Fall 2008
This course will explore our nature writing tradition with readings, field trips, and writing exercises. We will approach the tradition through four dimensions wherein we perceive nature: the self, the "other," space, and time. We will read representative excerpts from founding figures: Gilbert White -- nature as the self; William Bartram -- nature as the "other"; Henry Thoreau -- nature as space; Charles Darwin -- nature as time. This course will explore attempts to coordinate the dimensions with things like Bigfoot legends in The Klamath Knot: Explorations in Myth and Evolution. Field trips and writing exercises will focus on interpreting local landscapes in terms of the four dimensions.
The way he uses all his senses is staggering, incredible powers of observation. He is especially skillful with sound and color. He makes all kinds of allusions to art and history. He writes about his experiences of time morphing and feeling the presence of ghosts of past human inhabitants. I'm writing down so many snippets of his writing in my journal. The book has so many levels I am in awe of his accomplishment. I try to imagine how he wrote the book, how many hours did he spend sitting alone on the ridge, staying present with what was occurring around and within him? Looking forward to our discussion! Sandy
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The book for May is Idle Weeds: Life of a Sandstone Ridge by David Rains Wallace. Members are encouraged to share one or two passages in the book they found especially notable and why. We also like to hear readings of members' own writings, especially when inspired by the current book of the month.
After our discussion, those who wish can explore the trails and possibly do some nature journaling. New members are welcome! Don't worry if you haven't read the book. For directions to the Yankauer Preserve, go to http://www.potomacaudubon.org/yankauer.html
Hope to see you!
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Next meeting was set for May 31 at 3:00 PM with a possible change of location. Confirmation on location to come. In general, we will be scheduling meetings for the last Sunday of the month.
We were also very productive in that we have set books of the month through October! Participating members each suggested one title then they were drawn in random order.
MAY: Wallace, David Rains: Idle Weeds – The life of an Ohio Sandstone Ridge
JUNE Borland, Hal; Beyond Your Doorstep
JULY Costanz, George: Hollows, Peepers & Highlanders: An Appalachian Mountain Ecology
AUGUST Kline, David: Scratching the Woodcock--Nature on an Amish Farm
SEPTEMBER Kimmerer, Robin Wall: Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, 2003
OCTOBER Winn, Marie: Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park, 1998
Click each title above to be linked to a website with more information!
I'm realizing that while the selection of a specific book is important, it is not as important as the responses we each have as we read, and then the special chemistry that occurs when we all get together and share our insights.
Happy reading (and writing! ;-)
Monday, March 30, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
This film depicts scientist and author Rachel Carson in the last year of her life as she battles cancer and the chemical industry. The film is making a nationwide 100-city tour this month to celebrate National Women’s History Month. Carson’s bestseller Silent Spring, which she started writing in 1958 at the age of 50, was highly influential in the banning of the chemical DDT and the creation of EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the passage of the Clean Water Act.
Written by and starring film and television actress Kaiulani Lee, A Sense of Wonder offers a historically accurate and powerfully moving portrayal of this amazing woman. (http://www.ecosalon.com/)
For more information about the film and a sneak preview: http://www.asenseofwonderfilm.com/
Saturday, March 7, 2009
The Potomac Valley Audubon Society is asking local poets to submit poems that will be displayed as part of its annual Wildflower Festival, which will be held this year on Saturday, April 18
The festival will be held at the Society's Yankauer Nature Preserve north of Shepherdstown.
Its events will include a Poetry Walk, which will feature poems that focus on spring themes posted all along the preserve's Kingfisher trail.
Those who wish to submit poems are encouraged to do so by email by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Poems may also be dropped off at the Four Seasons Bookstore in Shepherdstown or submitted by regular mail to Poetry Walk, c/o PVAS, PO Box 578, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.
The deadline for submissions is April 10.
For more information contact PVAS at 304-676-3397 or email@example.com.
PVAS is a member of the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle and the Combined Federal Campaign
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Squirrel recommends this site about naturalist writer Marcia Bonta.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
To share your personal journal entries and other material not relating to our current readings, members can create their own blogs. Email your blog website address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add it to a list of links to member blogs. Then to see what members are doing/writing/thinking we just click on the link! For now blog links will be limited to group members. I will also add a link to WVNaturalists yahoo group.
If you will be a new attendee please rsvp to email@example.com
Let me know if you have not received your member list.
Author to Read: The author we will be reading and discussing for next meeting is Rachel Carson. The primary book we will discuss is Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman, 1952-1964 - The Story of a Remarkable Friendship. However, feel free to read any of her works instead of or in addition to this. See side bar to the right for helpful links.
Members suggest that we check our local libraries, used book stores, ebay, and used items available on amazon.com, bookfinder.com and other websites as alternatives to buying new.
Discussion Question: The general discussion question we will use for the next meeting is: Pick at least one or two passages (no more than a page or so) that you found exceptional or of special interest/impact. Think about why and how these passages affected you. Consider content, but also style of writing, and what the passages tell you about the author.
Writing: All members are encouraged to keep an ongoing journal of nature observations, thoughts, and any responses to the group selection or other readings. We agreed that each member would write a paragraph of personal response to the selected reading. Bring one copy of your paragraph to the meeting.