Monday, July 17, 2017

June Reads

Having a single post to cover all I read in 2016 was a bit overwhelming—both to write and, I'm sure, to read. So I've decided instead to do a monthly recap of books I've read, and share a little about each book. For past months, see:
January ReadsFebruary ReadsMarch ReadsApril ReadsMay Reads
I don't have an excuse for just now getting to June's books, other than the relentless march gallop of time. How can July already be more than halfway gone?

Anyway, June was a light reading month, partly because I read more than half of a book that appeared on May's list (Mountains of the Mind), partly because I was doing a lot of reading for research, none of which added up to a whole book (but which entailed reading most of an enormous tome on grazing in the west), and partly because I made an effort to catch up on magazines and literary journals—not a success, but an effort. Here are the books I did manage to read in June:

Poetry. For my morning poetry reading, I read Sandra Steingraber's collection, Post-Diagnosis, in which many of the poems center around her experience of being diagnosed with bladder cancer in her early 20s. But they also range far and wide, from nuclear testing to the poet Audre Lorde. The book makes clear why Steingraber's nonfiction writing about environmental health (see my review of one of her books here) is so lyrical, despite her training as a scientist. She does not leave that training behind while writing poetry, however. This is the first book of poetry I've ever read that is footnoted with sources of the events and information in the poems.

I also read two chapbooks by my friend and fellow Stonecoast graduate, Amanda Johnston. I LOVE hearing Amanda read her poetry, and I was wishing for her voice as I read, but reading them was the next best thing. Her poems are smart, sexy, thought-provoking, gut-punching, and word-playful, all in one and I can't wait for her forthcoming book!

Nonfiction. I'm trying to keep a steady stream of hiking/outdoor literature going as inspiration and instruction while I write my book and I happened to find a remaindered copy of Colin Fletcher's River at a bookstore (for fifty cents!!!). I'm a big fan of The Man Who Walked Through Time, so I was excited to read River and was not disappointed. Fletcher strikes the exact right balance between description and reflection (how does he do it, I don't know) as he describes his trip from the source to the delta of the Colorado River. I was sort of thinking of him as a mild-mannered Ed Abbey as I read, and then I came to the part where he talks about Abbey, who had contacted him around the time both Desert Solitaire and The Man Who Walked Through Time were published, and how he had responded somewhat churlishly, and missed the opportunity of meeting the more cantankerous of the two (otherwise similar) men. Fletcher took the trip late-ish in life (in his 60s), and while he's fairly reticent about details, he does some looking back over his years and airing regrets, of which the Ed Abbey incident was only one.

Fiction. Okay, once I reread Crocodile on the Sandbank, I dove back into the world of Amelia Peabody, Victorian Egyptology, murder, mystery, mayhem, and other hijinks. One final, posthumous, Amelia Peabody book is coming out next week. I reread the entire series about two years ago, so I didn't think I'd need to read them again, but it turns out that I do and I'm hot on the trail of finishing the 12 or 13 that come before the forthcoming The Painted Queen (some out-of-order writing publishing took place; last time I read them in publication order; this time I'm reading them in order of events). The two I read during June are The Curse of the Pharaohs and the Mummy Case.

What are you reading this month?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wild Wednesday ~ Damsels and Dragons

Naturalists are, by definition, generalists, but many, if not most, have a particular area of interest about which they are most knowledgeable—birds or flowers or rocks or moss or trees. Et cetera.

Powdered dancer (Agria moesta) and Variable dancer (Agria fumipennis)
Me? I know a little about a lot of things, nothing about some things, and a lot about nothing. Birds, I'm decent at, wildflowers, trees. But I don't really have that one thing. That one area of expertise. That passion.

Pond damsel spp?


As a result, since becoming a Maine Master Naturalist, a requirement of which is to share naturalist knowledge with others, I've taught classes in nature writing and nature journaling, my area of "expertise" and a naturalist skill that can be applied to whatever interest a person has.

Ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)
That being said, one realm I've been dabbling in for many years, and which is the thing that will be my "thing" once I take the time to really get to know it, is the Odonata—dragonfly and damselfly family.

Dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus)



Because they're just so darn cool.

There are 158 species of odonates in Maine alone, and some can only be identified under the so it might take me a while, but half the fun is in the chase.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Weekend Things ~ Water

We had a quiet weekend, the last one with nothing scheduled for the foreseeable future. E and Z had a friend over Friday night and, after we'd finished the morning housecleaning (which I very meanly made them do, despite their friend's presence) I asked them what they wanted to do and the unanimous vote was to go swimming. Which I'm always happy to do.



We made our first trip of the summer to our friends' camp on a lake where we had the beach all to ourselves. I enjoyed sitting in the shade reading as much as they enjoyed swimming and dunking and being wet and the obligatory ice cream stop on the way home.



Sunday afternoon, we headed down to wade in the river, for the first time all summer.



C took underwater video.



E and Z chased fish and crawdads.




And I stalked dragonflies and damselflies (more on that tomorrow).



On the way home, C and E visited one of the garden beds and discovered two monarch caterpillars on a nearby milkweed plant—the first monarchs we've found in years! We brought them in raise in our butterfly jar (they have a better chance of survival inside, away from predators). And I'm thrilled.



Three more reasons summer is the best season of all—water, dragonflies, and butterflies!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Weekend Things ~ July-ing

I am a summer girl at heart—despite the bugs and the poison ivy and the deadly caterpillars—and July in Maine is summer.



As often happens, it came on suddenly.



After a chilly June and a late end to the school year, suddenly it was Fourth of July weekend and it was hot and humid.



For some unfathomable reason, the members of my family do not like going to the beach.



They like it once they get there, but the getting there is always an ordeal.



I managed to coax E and Z to the shore Sunday, and they discovered/remembered that, yeah, they actually enjoy the beach.



They've gotten brave enough this year to swim out to where the water is deeper than they are tall, which means I have to swim with them or watch them closely again.



The water was co-o-o-old, which is just what the doctor ordered on this sticky, sunny day, and they stayed in the water until their lips turned blue around their chattering teeth.



I almost thought we'd be too cold for ice cream on the way home, but once we hit town, and the heat island effect, we were ready for a cold dessert.



Monday, C, E, Z and I partook of July's other favorite activity—strawberry picking (M is working at the strawberry farm this summer and had no desire to go there on his day off).



C was determined to get the 40+ pound discount.



So we picked. And we picked. And we picked.



Coming home with 57 pounds of berries!!!



C has been busy hulling and freezing them, and, when it became clear we'd never eat them before they went bad, I relented from my anti-domestic stance and made a double-batch of jam.

And that, dear Reader, is why I am a summer girl.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...