Wednesday, March 31, 2010


For our April meeting, members are reading Naturalist, the autobiography of Edward O Wilson. The brillant author and winner of two Pulitzer prizes, pioneer in sociobiology, distinguished entomologist and teacher, and champion of biodiversity--he is known affectionately to our group as "E O." We worship from afar, but this month we will get a little more up close and personal by reading his fascinating life story.

Check out the links below!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Seven of us gather on a misty afternoon to explore our responses to Mary Oliver's work. Some read Owls and Other Fantasies, some The Truro Bear, some Evidence. So many wonderful comments and ideas tumbled over one another, like pebbles in a rushing stream.

We debated whether Oliver's sensibility as a poet, as an artist in love with the sensuality of nature, is as valid a "way of knowing" as the empiricism of Bernd Heinrich. Oliver's approach resonates much more with some of us in our group than others. But no one denies having had at least one of those transcendent experiences in nature that Oliver evokes so well.

We identify that of the writers we have read, those who seem to write most powerfully somehow combine the scientist's passion for facts with the perceptions of their emotional and spiritual selves: the artist and the scientist dancing within one person, the artist-naturalist. We consider male writers we have read who are in touch with their "feminine side" as one member puts it. Oliver is most closely compared to Terry Tempest Williams, Rachel Carson and Robin Wall Kimmerer, all writers who embrace a holistic experience of nature, using their whole selves, the intellect, the body, the soul, and the imagination. It makes sense, considering that we humans are products of nature. Just where does the line between nature and non-nature lie?

The question arose, what are emotions for? Why do we have them? Is it nature or nurture? When we see wild geese winging their way in an undulating V, we respond with a catch in the throat. Is this because we associate it with some pleasant individual childhood memory, or because we--as a species, as mammals-- have co-evolved with nature, with migrating birds who foretell winter or joyous spring, for millennia? Is the study of our response to nature just as important as the study of non-human nature, perhaps these days even more important considering human driven climate change and escalating extinctions?

Mary Oliver invites us to deepen our experience of the natural world and embrace our "place in the family of things."

Monday, March 1, 2010


The Potomac Valley Audubon Society will hold its annual spring Wildflower Festival on Saturday, April 17 at the Yankauer Nature Preserve, from 11:00 to 4:00 PM rain or shine. The festival coincides with the peak blooming of spring wildflowers. Guides will lead walks through the preserve for advanced and beginner wildflower identification. Walks suitable for families are included. Children’s activities are planned and refreshments will be provided.
For the third year in a row, the festival includes a special Poetry Walk component—original poems on spring themes penned by local poets will be posted all along the preserve’s Kingfisher trail where the majority of wildflowers are found. Those who wish to submit poems for posting are encouraged to do so! Submissions should be sent by email to Or, send them by regular mail to “PoetryWalk, c/o PVAS, PO Box 578, Shepherdstown, WV 25443. The deadline for submissions is April 10.