Loree Griffin Burns: The Way of Natural History

From: A Life in Books
http://loreeburns.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-way-of-natural-history/
January 19, 2012 at 12:18PM

THE WAY OF NATURAL HISTORY
edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner
Trinity University Press, 2011

Category: Essay Collection for Adults

I have spent the past month drinking deeply from this collection of essays, jotting notes in margins, mulling ideas, appreciating voices and places new to me. I’m feeling tipsy. There is so much to admire in these pages, and to love. Like this lesson from John Anderson’s essay Sauntering toward Bethlehem:

“More and more I have come to believe that the context of any action may be at least as important as the action itself, and that this also applies to our learning and teaching. An analysis of bear dung that gives a precise distribution of foodstuffs consumed or fits the bear into some clearly defined trophic level doubtless has an elegance and beauty of its own, but it is neither the bear nor the berries that the bear ate, nor the crushed grass stems springing back from the bear’s pugmarks, nor the taste of the morning air before anyone else in camp is awake, nor your feeling of breathless excitement that direct contact with the truly other can bring.”

And this, from Laura Sewall’s Perceiving a World of Relations:

“What sort of sensibility might emerge with one’s attention commonly cast out over a river? Could it be that a fluid, flexible form of consciousness–a certain sensibility–is born of attention to River? Could an internal ease arise after contemplating Lake’s still depth? As children, might we learn the nature of transformation by watching tadpoles become frogs in the fecund months of spring? Might we then be predisposed toward a belief in our own potential to transform?”

THE WAY OF NATURAL HISTORY captured me as much by content as by style. Perhaps it would capture you, too?

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