Our picnic to cap off the 2010-2011 season fell on a beautiful spring evening. Our potluck repast sweetened our savoring of Bernd Heinrich's Summer World, followed by a preview of La Casita, the new nature center, and a walk in the wood to admire a variety of fecund ferns.
Summing up Summer World is difficult to do. So much fascination is packed into each page. Some of us liked this book better than the author's Winter World. It was easier for us to relate to his description of summer phenomena which are comparable to our mid-atlantic region versus his exploration of what happens in the long, frigid winter in the north country of Maine. However, Heinrich never fails to inspire with his laser-like focus on details and his ability to construct brilliant experiments to answer his never-ceasing questions about "What would happen if?" and "Why?" Nothing in nature is outside of his scope: the immersion of spring leaves and buds, insect and mammal behaviors, and so on. He is exemplary in his intimacy with the natural world-- it is a daily immersion by which he measures his existence.
Also inspirational is his skill in documenting his experiences and thought processes in words and drawings that allow us to learn along with him. When we read Heinrich we are learning how to observe, how to think about what we observe and how we might create the same types of experiences for ourselves. And how we might document them in a similar fashion to share with others! In fact, I would like to challenge our PVNWG members (or anyone reading Heinrich and this blog) to come up with a personal Heinrich-like study or experiment this summer, and write/draw to document your process and results. And of course email your work to email@example.com and I will post it on our REFLECTIONS page! The goal is to try out the observation and documenting process, so if you are at all intimidated or need a boost of encouragement, remind yourself to keep it simple.
We reconvene book discussion meetings in September 2011--to pay homage to our summer read: Scott Weidensaul's Mountains of the Heart.
Comments about books can be made online using the comment feature. Personal book reviews may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration to be posted on the blog. Original nature writing based on personal experience may also be submitted for inclusion on the REFLECTIONS page of the blog.
January: Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez February: Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez March: The Trees in My Forest by Bernd Heinrich April: Tinkering with Eden by Kim Todd (Recipient of Pen/Jerard Award) May/June: Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear July/August/September: My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir October: All Things Reconsidered by Roger Tory Peterson November: Sierra Lane by Amy Minato December/January: Outermost House by Henry Beston
February 2011 Alice Outwater: Water, A Natural History /March 2011 John McPhee: Encounters with the Archdruid /April 2011 John Himmelman: Discovering Moths /May 2011 Bernd Heinrich: Summer World /SUMMER READ (June through September Hiatus) Scott Weidensaul: Mountains of the Heart /October 2011 Jane Goodall: Reason for Hope /November 2011 Barbara Hurd: Entering the Stone /December 2011 Barry Lopez: Arctic Dreams
The Potomac Valley Nature Writers' Group (PVNWG) formed in early 2009 to promote the art and appreciation of nature writing. This genre of literature explores and celebrates the natural world and our relationship within it. PVNWG welcomes both readers and writers to participate.