Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The next PVNWG Reader's Club meeting is set for this coming Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM. We again will be meeting at a member's private home by her gracious invitation. If you have not yet attended a meeting, but would like to join us, you may attend as a current member's guest. Email pvnaturewriters@gmail.com to express your interest and we will make the necessary arrangements. Previous attendees should have received directions by email. With our January meeting we celebrate our first year of monthly meetings and look forward to reading more wonderful authors in 2010!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


For December our primary reading selection is Diane Ackerman's The Moon By Whale Light, a collection of essays on her encounters with rare and endangered species, as she accompanied researchers seeking to understand and protect them. Members may read any of her works but note that some of her works are more focused on natural history than others.

From her website:
Poet, essayist, and naturalist, Diane Ackerman is the author of two dozen highly acclaimed works of nonfiction and poetry, including A Natural History of the Senses -- a book beloved by millions of readers all over the world. Humans might luxuriate in the idea of being “in” nature, but Ms. Ackerman has taught generations that we are nature—for “no facet of nature is as unlikely as we, the tiny bipeds with the giant dreams.” In prose so rich and evocative that one can feel the earth turning beneath one’s feet as one reads, Ackerman’s thrilling observations—of things ranging from the cloud glories to the human brain to endangered whooping cranes—urge us to live in the moment, to wake up to nature’s everyday miracles.

Ms. Ackerman has received a D. Lit. from Kenyon College, Guggenheim Fellowship, Orion Book Award, John Burroughs Nature Award, and the Lavan Poetry Prize, as well as being honored as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library. She also has the rare distinction of having a molecule named after her --dianeackerone. She has taught at a number of universities, including Columbia and Cornell. Her essays about nature and human nature have been appearing for decades in The New York Times, Smithsonian, Parade, The New Yorker, National Geographic and many other journals, where they have been the subject of much praise.

To learn more, click on Ms. Ackerman's photo above to visit her webpage.


A chilly December afternoon. Bright remnants of yesterday's snowfall. Water glinting through bare trees. Five nature lovers convene to talk about Wendell Berry's The Long Legged House and the ideas therein. And eat cookies and drink wassail.

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


The PVNWG Reader's Club is set to meet on Sunday, December 6 at 3:00 PM. We will discuss our thoughts about Wendell Berry's The Long Legged House.

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 pvnaturewriters@gmail.com to make arrangements.

If you have previously attended a meeting, email a query for directions to the location.

Hope to see you there!