Friday, May 29, 2009

The Four Dimensions

I've been noticing how multidimensional Wallace's work in Idle Weeds is. Check out the description of the nature writing class that he teaches:
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.

Some Talent!

I'm found this month's book a little slow going at first, but the more I read, the more admiring I've become of the author's talent with extendedmetaphors--like comparing the ridge's canopy seen from above to the ocean, with birds and insects leaping up like porpoises-- and suggesting that the insects thriving together on milkweed plants are like a Borgia court thriving on poison!
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

Idle Weeds Starring Short Tailed Shrew

Click photo for more info and images. Photo by Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Creative Commons License

May Meeting at Yankauer Preserve!

This month's Potomac Valley Nature Writing Group meeting will take place Sunday, May 31, 3:00 PM in the pavilion at Yankauer Nature Preserve. Please bring a lawn chair and water. During the summer months we will plan to meet at different locations outdoors, and return to our Shepherd University classroom in the fall.
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
Hope to see you!