Upstream, Mary Oliver, Penguin 2016

Getting back to this book blog after a period of general life business.

I finished Mary Oliver’s collection of essays a few weeks ago. I am new to her writing and wish I’d discovered it earlier. I could have benefitted from the wisdom in these beautiful essays on art, creativity, nature and memory many times during my life. This is one of those books you burden with sticky notes and underlining. Oliver’s unsentimental observations about animals, foxes, birds, spiders and turtles are enthralling and occasionally shocking, but it is her reflections on creativity that really spoke to me.

The clock! The twelve-figured moon skull, that white spider belly.”

Of Power and Time

No one has yet made a list of places where the extraordinary may happen and where it may not. Still, there are indications. Among crowds, in drawing rooms, among easements and comforts and pleasures, it is seldom seen. It likes the out-of-doors. It likes the concentrating mind. It likes solitude. It is more likely to stick to the risk-taker than the ticket-taker. It isn’t that it would disparage comforts, or the set routines of the world, but that its concern is directed to another place. It’s concern is the edge, and the making of a form out of the formlessness that is beyond the edge.

Of Power and Time

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

Of Power and Time

Vesper Flights

I am enjoying Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald. It seems the perfect book for this moment. These essays vary in length and it’s the longer pieces I like best. My favorites so far are Tekels Park and In Her Orbit. Tekels Park reminded me of my own childhood explorations and In Her Orbit, introduced me to Nathalie Cabrol and her fascinating research.

Macdonald’s observations are always interesting and filled with unexpected pieces of information. Did I mention she writes beautifully? The thing I like best about this book is that despite the frequent acknowledgement about the sorry state of our natural world, there is an underlying curiosity and sense that there is still so much to see and learn about. I haven’t read H is for Hawk, but I will soon.