Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
Summary (Milkweed Editions): “Birds are my almanac. They tune me into the seasons, and into myself.”
So begins this lively collection of essays by acclaimed filmmaker and novelist Priyanka Kumar. Growing up at the feet of the Himalayas in northern India, Kumar took for granted her immersion in a lush natural world. After moving to North America as a teenager, she found herself increasingly distanced from more than human life and discouraged by the civilization she saw contributing to its destruction. It was only in her twenties, living in Los Angeles and working on films, that she began to rediscover her place in the landscape—and in the cosmos—by way of watching birds.
Tracing her movements across the American West, this stirring collection of essays brings the avian world richly to life. Kumar’s perspective is not that of a list keeper, counting and cataloguing species. Rather, from the mango-colored western tanager that rescues her from a bout of altitude sickness in Sequoia National Park to ancient sandhill cranes in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and from the snowy plovers building shallow nests with bits of shell and grass to the white-breasted nuthatch that regularly visits the apricot tree behind her family’s casita in Santa Fe, for Kumar, birds “become a portal to a more vivid, enchanted world.”
At a time when climate change, habitat loss, and the reckless use of pesticides are causing widespread extinction of species, Kumar’s reflections on these messengers from our distant past and harbingers of our future offer luminous evidence of her suggestion that “seeds of transformation lie dormant in all of our hearts. Sometimes it just takes the right bird to awaken us.”
Publisher Site: https://milkweed.org/book/conversations-with-birds
2. North Carolina Wildlife Federation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQeut7EsMac
Author's Movies and Shows:
The Song of the Little Road: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy3e_lzBI9Y
Discussion Questions: (Heidi to lead):
Monday, June 26, 2023
Summary (Good Reads): “If you pay attention to the land where you live, you enter into conversation with it, until it becomes a voice inside you, and some of the boundaries between you and it dissolve,” write Susan Hand Shetterly. In this collection of elegant, spare, and often passionate essays, Shetterly explores what it is to live in a Down East coastal town, and to pay attention, over time, to what it offers of land, water, wildlife, and community. She takes her cue from Henry David Thoreau and Wendell Berry, who advocate for the virtues of staying in one place, believing that as we delve deeper into the landscape of home the more we learn about the world. As in many other places, this particular home place is in trouble. Shetterly celebrates the work of communities to restore environments their people know and love, and takes a closeup look at what is changing and what has been lost. Among her subjects are the reestablishment of the bald eagle, the reintroduction of the American turkey in Maine, and the turkey vulture’s northward trend. She also writes about shorebird migrations, the bluefin tuna and the humpback and right whales in the Gulf of Maine, counting alewives along a stream in the spring, seaweed cultivation in a bay, a forest’s rebirth, the island that gave her the imaginative space she needed, and more. She recounts how she and her neighbors kept each other company at a distance during the long months of the pandemic, and she celebrates coastal culture, its particular, deep history that anchors a person’s sense of place.
Author's Website: http://www.susanhandshetterly.com/recent-work-reviews/
Discussion Questions (John will lead this discussion and here are his questions)
Sunday, June 4, 2023
From Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx—whose novels are infused with her knowledge and deep concern for the earth—comes a riveting, revelatory history of our wetlands, their ecological role, and what their systematic destruction means for the planet.
Sunday, May 7, 2023
Summary (Good Reads): Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more.
Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.
Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.
Friday, March 31, 2023
Author's Website: https://olivermilman.com/
Discussion Questions: (John will lead the discussion and provided the questions)
Friday, March 3, 2023
These prayers were first published, in French, in 1947 by a private press. Rumer Godden discovered a volume of them and translated them into English. The poem-prayers are at once reverent, humorous, realistic and concise.
Information about author: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmen_Bernos_de_Gasztold
The Poems set to music:https://www.gwynethwalker.com/pdf/pfta.pdf
The Prayer of the Mouse by Grace Immaculata: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKI2Rv5Gjhw
Download through library or school: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41386433
Discussion Questions (from Jan C.)