Thursday, May 26, 2011

SUMMER READ: Mountains of the Heart

Scott Weidensaul's Mountains of the Heart is our SUMMER READ selection. We will inaugurate our 2011-2012 season on September 25 with an appreciation of this book and it's subject, the natural history and ecology of the Appalachian Mountains. (Time and place to be announced.) To link to the Pulitizer Prize nominated author's gorgeous website click here. Click on the book cover at left for a summary of the book.


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 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.