Sep 26, 2018

Nature Bats Last

Nature Bats Last

Ever so often you encounter a book that is not only a pleasure to read but one that resonates within your mental framework. And how much better it is when you discover the author has written over a dozen books in a similar vein. My attraction to the writings of Mr. Pyle began with the purchase at a thrift store of Mariposa Road: The First Butterfly Big Year, a book documenting his quest to locate as many of the 800 or so butterflies found in the United States in one calendar year. His entertaining, fluid prose about a pursuit that could easily become mundane, guaranteed it didn’t. I was hooked.

Robert Michael Pyle resides in the Willapa Hills of southwest Washington where he has lived since the seventies, I think, anyway, a considerable length of time. During those years he has written effusively about the natural environment and history of this much overlooked section of the state. He is best known for his study and work with lepidoptera, and is indeed the author, or co-author, of several butterfly guides. He is also a poet, and this sensitivity is reflected in his prose. I could go on and on but, for a change, won’t.

The primary reason for this post is to encourage those of you with a passionate attraction and appreciation of the natural world, especially the northwest, to take a look. I’m not sure which book to recommend, but if your interests tend toward forests, logging, and forest management, or lack thereof, then perhaps Wintergreen: Rambles in a Ravaged Land might be the place to start. The book is a little dated, not in spirit, but in time. It was written in 1986, and I like to think many things have improved since then. If nothing else, the next time you are in a library or bookstore take a few minutes to read the next to last chapter, And the Coyotes Will Lift a Leg.

Sep 23, 2018

In Praise of The Beatles

In Praise of The Beatles

The Beatles, the musical group, not the beetles that comprise the order coleoptera (which I would rather comment on), need no endorsement from the likes of me, but, for reasons I will make clear in a moment I have gained an appreciation of them, and their music I did not have prior to today. It was always easy listening background music to me - there seemed to be little if anything to excite or offend anyone. That they were the physic sought by young people of the sixties, and a great many that could no longer be considered young, is without question.

Last Thursday I purchased a CD from a thrift store titled “Beatles 1’, a collection of 27 of their songs that climbed the popularity chart to number one. Until today I tended to relegate their music to the ‘teeny-bopper’, pop culture genre, and have always preferred grittier offerings from The Rolling Stones and other groups. I still do, but, I now recognize that beneath and beyond the “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” and all the other wonderful, catchy phrases there was/is something more substantial.

So, on a dull, drizzly day as I repotted Edelweiss ‘Matterhorn’, various Iris, Lilies, and too many Pulsatilla vulgaris (Heiler hybrids) I slipped ‘The Beatles 1’ disk into my CD player. The songs are arranged chronologically for the most part and I was amazed, when I glanced at the ‘liner notes’ (I’m obviously an old LP player) that all the songs were recorded during the 1960’s! That’s 50 years ago, isn’t it? Can’t be, my math must be wrong. The sun is in retrograde motion. I can’t be that old. The songs can’t be that old. It’s like something from the movie ‘Brazil” - “They’ve gone metric’.

Damn, except for a few of the earlier offerings which seemed to target the pre-teen audience, I find the music enchanting, meaningful, and likely to still be quite relevant, especially to young people struggling to make sense of their world, many years from now, Those halcyon years when I aspired to be a Paperback Writer living peacefully in a Norwegian Wood While My Guitar Gently Wept. 

Regardless, this is now, and forever, but as I load an old pirated tape of rare, early ‘Pink Floyd’ into my cassette deck and continue with the transplanting I tip my moth-eaten, Venice West Cafe, black beret to John, Paul, George, and Ringo, and praise the goodwill and celebration of life their music engenders everywhere.

Let It Be, Let it Be.