Category Archives: Nature

Owls


I am awake in the middle of the night listening to a pair of Great Horned owls calling to each other from the tall trees in our neighborhood. This is such an unusual happening — being awake like this at this time (yes, I have too much on my mind) and also to hear the owls. So instead of sleepless worry, I am simply enjoying the song and the amazing conversation between the two owls. It is magical!

Whoo! WhooWhoo! Whoo! Whoo!” As the nights passed the booming of the owls became more and more frequent. Bubo called from his beech tree, Black Talon answered from her elm roost. Then Bubo called from the sugarhouse and Black Talon answered from the marsh.

~ from  Bubo: The Great Horned Owl, by Jean Craighead George

The Aye-Aye and I

An Aye-Aye

In the gloom it came along the branches towards me, its round, hypnotic eyes blazing, its spoon-like ears turning to and fro independently like radar dishes, its white whiskers twitching and moving like sensors; its black hands, with their thin, attenuated fingers, the third seeming prodigiously elongated, tapping delicately on the branches as it moved along, like those of a pianist playing a complicated piece by Chopin. It looked like a Walt Disney witch’s black cat with a touch of ET thrown in for good measure. If ever a flying saucer came from Mars, you felt that this is what would emerge from it. It was Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky come to life, whiffling through its tulgey wood.

This is the beginning of Gerald Durrell’s book, The Aye-Aye and I. It is the story of the trip to Madagascar he and his wife, Lee, took to capture healthy specimens of this amazing and rare endangered primate to place in breeding centers around the globe in an attempt to save them from extinction. Aye-Ayes are the largest Lemur, nocturnal primates, and they spend most of their lives in trees. It hunts for grubs by tapping on the wood and then gnawing a hole to get to the grub, and then uses its long narrow finger to pull the grub out.

I had never heard of an Aye-Aye until I found this book. My curiosity, as well as my love of Gerald Durrell’s writing, prompted an immediate purchase of the book, and I very much enjoyed reading it. If you have ever read a book by Gerald Durrell, you know he has a wonderful sense of humor and a wonderful way with words. In reading this book, you learn a lot about life on Madagascar — flora, fauna, and human! — and get to know this amazing creature and the struggles it faces for survival.

 

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust: Reading the World,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a fascinating account from Madagascar.

One Day At Teton Marsh

During this time of self isolation, are any of you dreaming of travel? I am! but right now I’m happy to be able to do some delightful armchair traveling.  One Day At Teton Marsh, by Sally Carrighar, is a beautiful written and illustrated book about the wildlife at Teton Marsh, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, all on one day at the onset of winter. You can see that my copy of the book is old from the photo above. It was published by the University of Nebraska Press, (one of the Bison Books) which was my favorite publishing company for many years. But it’s been a long time since I read it. But I pulled it off the shelf recently and reread it. It has been a lovely companion for my armchair travels, and when this time of quarantine is over, and it is safe to travel again, I want to go to Jackson, Wyoming, and spend some time appreciating the wildlife of that beautiful area!

The style of this book is very interesting. Sally Carrighar has told the story of that one day at Teton Marsh from the point of view of each of the animals that live there. So with each chapter, you really learn about the animal, it’s life and habitat, and how it fits in to the web of life. The writing is beautiful and the stories are quite fascinating! And I love the illustrations, by George and Patritia Mattson.

You’ll have to check your library to find a copy of the physical book because it is out of stock everywhere I looked. However, it IS  available as a Kindle book here.( Just be sure to read it on a device where you can really appreciate the illustrations!)

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “WANDERLUST: Reading the States,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each of the 50 United States. This book took place in Wyoming.

 

 

I also read this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

October Reflections 2018

 

As Anne says in L. M. Montgomery’s timeless classic, Anne of Green Gables,  “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  This October was a particularly beautiful one here in Oregon! It was also a wonderful reading month for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my reading for the Readers Imbibing Peril-XIII challenge, and Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-thon.  Here are the covers of books read during this very successful reading month for me:

My husband and I also did a little bit of traveling this month. We spent a couple of days in the Seattle area where I met with my former teaching teammates and had a wonderful reunion lunch while Byron went on a bike ride. Also while in the area, he and I visited our favorite garden center, and the Yakima Fruit Market, and went out to eat at three of our old favorite restaurants. It was a great get-away!

We also spent a couple of days hiking in Silver Falls State Park. We enjoyed our first hike there so much we returned a week later and brought our daughter with us. We all loved hiking amongst  gorgeous the autumn colors.

So all in all, it was a just a great October!

Dipper of Copper Creek

Lithograph by Joseph Wolf, 1867

Dipper of Copper Creek, by Jean Craighead George, is part of her American Woodlands Tales series, a very interesting set of books for young people about the animals that live in the American woodlands. I love this series, and have read several of the books already. You learn so much about nature and about those individual animals from her stories. And I enjoy her beautiful descriptions of the woodlands.

The entire land had suddenly come into bloom. It was not the bloom of the lowlands, a season for the avalanche lily, the iris, the buttercup, the columbine, lupine, sun flowers, asters, and goldenrod. It was an upsurging of all of this at once. The days and weeks were not long enough for separate seasons: they were short, so that each subseason telescoped the others.

Each story also includes a variety of human beings and their interaction with and impact on the woodlands environment. In Dipper of Copper Creek, the story of the Dipper family is complemented by the coming of age story of a young boy spending the summer with his aging grandfather, a miner still living a very simple life in the woods. Both stories give you an honest look at the connectedness of all life in the woods. I think these would be wonderful stories to read and discuss in homes and in classrooms. They are kind tales and gentle reminders of the important environmental issues of our time.

 

This book was one of the books I chose to read for my 2018 TBR Pile challenge!

A Year in the Big Old Garden

What a delightful book! A Year in the Big Old Garden, by James D. Witmer, is a treasure to be shared with young and old. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are full of fun humor, kindness, and lots of good information about the natural world of the big old garden. Although the stories were written for children, they are both timeless and ageless, and a must read!

From the author:

I write about adventure, small woodland creatures, and what happens when you realize there are no ordinary places.

This book is available for Amazon Kindle, or as a printable PDF.

Click here to read an interview with the author, James D. Witmer.

A Book Obsession

 

I have a confession to make… I have a serious book obsession. Gardening books are my passion these days and I keep finding treasures that I must have on my shelf!

When we retired and moved to Oregon, we culled our book collections and donated many many books to the local library. Also with retirement, my book buying has slacked off considerably, except for ebooks and audiobooks. But when I see a lovely gardening book, I can’t help myself. My collection is growing, and the photo above is of the two shelves I started out with, but it has already taken over another shelf in this bookcase. Yes, I’m reading them … slowly … but I love looking through them, and love learning and dreaming about gardens.

My 2016 vegetable garden…

Rivers of Oregon

On my trip to the library last week I picked up a beautiful new book called Rivers of Oregon, by photographer/conservationist Tim Palmer, and published by Oregon State University Press.  “Rivers are the essence of Oregon,” stated the author, and this book is full of beautiful photographs and interesting essays about these hundreds of waterways.

“Healthy rivers are not only essential to the abundance of life and a historically robust economy in both sport and commercial fishing, but to all we do. The livability of whole towns and regions would wither if i weren’t for rivers and the water they deliver.

Oregon’s rivers are likewise embedded in our history and culture, from the route of Lewis and Clark across the Northwest to urban greenways that brighten Portland, Pendleton, Eugene, Corvallis, Salem, Grants Pass, Bend, and other towns large and small. Whether in our backyards or in our most cherished wilderness, the rivers give us a refuge from the stress and clutter of our busy lives. At the stream’s edge, we can adjust our expectations in synchrony with the natural world.”

This book is filled with absolutely gorgeous photographs of an amazing number of rivers in Oregon with information about each one. Besides being a talented photographer, Tim Palmer is an excellent writer so this is a very readable book as well as a lovely photography book.

I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Oregon, the natural world, and in conserving the beauty of nature and our rivers in this challenging time in our nation when decisions are being made that put many rivers in peril.