Tag Archives: nature

Willow Weep for Me

The Language of Trees by Ilie Ruby (Avon)

The Language of Trees transports us into the deep, magical aspects of nature, while inviting us to reconsider the magnetic power of desires long-buried.   While not a believer in second chances, but rather in what is meant to exist, this story had me wanting to change my mind.   This is a well rendered tale of shattered pieces, and the sorrow of remembering their beginnings.   Ruby’s suspenseful story telling style and painterly prose make for an alluring read.

Ruby brings us to a seemingly inncuous town, whose many secrets are whispered and hidden among the giant willows.   Her characters are artfully drawn, yet oddly familiar.   We are shown Canandaigua, of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, where the folklore of the Seneca Indians runs deep.   When three children spontaneously set off in a canoe towards Squaw Island, to escape the angry father they are running from, a weeping rain turns to sudden fury; spilling into a tragedy that becomes a series of dark storms for the Ellis family.

This tightly wound tale manages to both inform and invite the reader to reconsider the gift of healing, or at least the deepest human urge to repair what is broken.   Ruby shows us the mystery of spirit in all living things and how those spirits swoop and dart among us, landing in the most unlikely of places.   This book will have you wondering about ghosts, and if those who remain and haunt us are simply the ones we choose to keep.

 

Carrie Host is the author of Between Me and the River. 

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Lift

Lift by Rebecca K. O’Connor

Lift is the charming and encouraging true story of a woman’s acquisition of a baby peregrine falcon, something that she’s been fascinated with since being a child.   But it is not just the story of a girl and the bird she loves, it’s also about how the falcon helps author Rebecca O’Connor to understand and accept the past and current events in her life.   Most falconers are hunters but a scarred O’Connor is aware that she’s “more prey than predator.”   This is true because she was abandoned by her parents while very young, lost the grandparents who raised her, and is surprised to discover that her boyfriend has different values.

In the life of the soaring falcon, O’Connor observes a creature that is focused on survival, no matter what it takes.   It is, at first, a massive struggle to tame the bird, but then she sees and accepts that this feathered hunter will always maintain his independence.   O’Connor, in a sense, gets to experience freedom and strength vicariously through her peregrine, and it transforms her into a stronger person.

If you liked Alex and Me or Wesley the Owl, there is an extremely good chance that you will love Lift.

Red Hen Press, $18.95, 206 pages

Well recommended.

Joseph Arellano

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Guardians of Being

Guardians of Being combines the words of Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, with the whimsical illustrations of Patrick McDonnell, the creator of the Mutts cartoons, in a heartwarming inspirational and joyful package.   The Oprah Magazine has called the book “an inspired collaboration between spiritual teacher Tolle and comic strip artist McDonnell.   A book to make you wiggle with joy.”

From the publisher:  “More than a collection of witty and charming drawings, the marriage of Patrick McConnell’s art and Eckhart Tolle’s words conveys a profound love of animals, of humans, of all life-forms.   Guardians of Being celebrates and reminds us of not only the oneness of all life but also the wonder and joy to be found in the present moment, amid the beauty we sometimes forget to notice all around us.”

This is a book to be treasured.   The wisdom of the words, combined with the charming illustrations, make this a book to be savored, not just read.   Browsing through this book is an almost meditative experience, and it will most definitely remind the reader about what really matters in life.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book are:

Everything natural – every flower, tree and animal – has important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look, and listen.

Just watching an animal closely can take you out of your mind and bring you into the present moment, which is where the animal lives all the time – surrendered to life.

I have always believed that animals are amazing teachers.   It’s nice to see that I’m in good company.   Treat yourself to this book – and while you’re at it, pick one up for your closest friend.

This review was written by Ingrid King, author of Buckley’s Story: Lessons From a Feline Master Teacher.   Buckley’s Story will be reviewed on this site in the near future.   Thank you to Ingrid for allowing us to reprint her review.   You can read more of her writings about very fine felines at http://consciouscat.net .

I love my cats because I love my home and after a while they become its visible soul.   Jean Cocteau

 

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The Wolf in the Parlor

The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs by Jon Franklin

Pulitzer-Prize winning science writer Jon Franklin delivers a thoughtful account of his search for the nexus of human and dog.   His exploration begins with two events.   First, Franklin sees a photograph depicting an ancient grave at an archaeological dig.   A man’s skeleton reaches out to the skeleton of a small creature, perhaps a puppy.   Secondly, Franklin proposes to his girlfriend, Lynn, who upon hearing it asks, “Does this mean I can get a puppy?”

Lynn accepts Franklin’s proposal after he accepts her counter-proposal.   Charlie, a black standard poodle, becomes the third member of their new family.   Soon, Charlie works his way into Franklin’s life.   Their relationship triggers a decades-long academic and emotional search for how and when wolves became dogs – man/woman’s best friend.

Over many years Charlie and Franklin go for long daily walks in the Oregon woods exploring nature via Charlie’s nose, eyes and ears.   All the while the image of the ancient man and his small companion lurks in the back of Franklin’s mind.   As a science writer he has access to the best and the brightest, and makes very good use of this access through interviews with top-notch academics.   He learns that, “While humans may be unique in some respects, we can’t afford to set ourselves apart from other animals.   If we do, we’ll never understand ourselves, or what happened to make us what we are.”   This lesson and others add texture and meaning to our otherwise everyday lives.

Rating:  Four paws and a wagging tail!

Henry Holt, $25.00, 272 pages

Reviewed by Ruta Arellano.   Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.

  

 

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