Recommended by jathton - Jun 30, 2020 12:20 AM
I've wanted to list this book ever since joining NGA. But I could not seem to figure what to say. A few days ago my cousin emailed me and said, "You're always mentioning her. Tell me about her book." This is what I wrote to her.........
Annie Dillard is an author whose words I have loved and respected since I first read them in 1974... the year I returned from the service. The book was her first effort... it was titled Pilgrim at Tinker Creek... and in 1975 it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.
In an excellent review of the book in The Atlantic the book was introduced by way of saying,
"In its chapters, she spends a lot of time sitting on a sycamore log over the creek, watching a praying mantis lay eggs or seeing a giant water bug sucking up a frog's body (leaving behind its crumpled skin). She comes across as audacious, inquisitive, and hilarious, chasing wood ducks and sleeping alone without a tent under a moonless sky. The book raises questions about the horrors and beauties of nature, and the power of the present moment in a world that's constantly being created. It's also a chronicle of solitude."
In the opening chapter she talks about seeing a Mockingbird "step" off the roof of a tall building and plummet toward the earth with its wings folded in. At the very last second, just before crashing into the concrete, the bird gracefully unfolds its wings and glides away.
Dillard summarizes this experience by saying, "The fact of his free fall was like the old philosophical conundrum about the tree that falls in the forest. The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there."
It isn't much of a stretch to understand why I told you all this when I go on to explain that...
Monday morning at 3:21 AM, sleepless, I walked out to the patio and, while looking around, happened to glance up and see the full moon. Then I noticed the two white orbs in close proximity to the moon. I knew they were planets when I realized they were not blinking and a call to the National Weather Service confirmed that the largest orb was Jupiter. But the lady at NWS surprised me when she said the smaller orb was Saturn.
Here is the best image my camera would take:
After a very long minute I realized I was looking, with unaided eyes, at one planet 404.16 MILLION miles distant and a second planet more than TWICE as far off [858.46 million miles].
A simple glance at the night sky and a simple set of facts... so easy to pass by without paying attention... so easy to be unaware of or uninterested in... just another aspect of reality that has nothing to do with our life or the day we are experiencing or the mood we are in...
But every once in a while...................................................
"It ever was, and is, and shall be,
ever-living Fire, in measures being
kindled and in measures going out."
Heraclitus, from the Pilgrim at Tinker Creek epigraph
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