Wednesday, April 18, 2007

An Antidote to What's-His-Name

I have an antidote to the Imuses and Sharptons and Coulters and other sewage-spewers of the world. For every spotlight seeker going for the cheap quick headline, there are dozens of beautiful examples of writers and speakers who caress words into glowing images.

I commend to you Julie Zickefoose. With an 80-acre back yard in the Appalachians, and an encyclopedic knowledge of nature, she writes about her world and paints it with appreciation for the company of birds and bullfrogs. Her lyrical style first caught me in a brief article in the Nature Conservancy magazine, and that same day her new book went on my Amazon wish list. Fortunately, my birthday was just weeks away. As my day arrived, so did Zickefoose's Letters from Eden: A Year at Home, in the Woods.

It's clear from the Preface that a treat awaits. She talks about her "…neighbors: coyotes, copperheads, gnatcatchers, and bluebirds. I walk through their woods, and I'm lucky enough to come to know some of them." She sees the goings on in her bit of forest as nothing much extraordinary. Creatures go about their affairs. "Bullfrogs leap from the water to snap up birds. Bluebirds and
Carolina wrens sometimes have threesomes. These things are extraordinary only if we know they happen. My work is to notice them."

She is a master of her craft. Enjoy.