Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reading this book has become almost a meditation for me

Blog re-post from Boston Writers by Shala Howell
Feb 2, 2012

In Season: A Natural History of the New England Year
Field Illustrations and Notes by Nona Bell Estrin
Essays by Charles W. Johnson
University Press of New England, 2002
Age Range: Illustrated Field Notes-All Ages, Essays-Adults

Growing up in a big city, like I did, you can easily feel disconnected from nature. Turns out growing up in small town Massachusetts, like The Four-Year-Old, is not that much better. The world around us still feels pretty well-groomed and not terribly wild. Even if we do have a rabbit living under the shed in our backyard.

I’m attempting to counter the domestication of nature to some degree with regular visits to places like the Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. But let’s face it, when your fear of ticks and the Lyme Disease that they carry is as well-developed as mine is, teaching your Four-Year-Old to feel a deep connection with nature is no easy task.

That’s where this book comes in. I first picked it up as a way to help myself see the hundreds of subtle changes that happen every day as the calendar progresses. If I could see them, the theory went, I could point them out to The Four-Year-Old and help her become an active observer (and hopefully appreciator) of nature.

Half illustrated field notes, half essay reflections on nature’s survival strategies from month to month, In Season is all about reconnecting with the environment around us. Estrin’s field notes chronicle the thousands of small events that make the seasons. A sudden proliferation of grouse, porcupine, coyote, fisher cat, and fox tracks in the snow as all the animals come out to stock up on food in advance of a big winter storm. The cacophony of crows as they gather for roosting at the end of the day. The many types of snow.

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