Posted by: greentangle | April 22, 2018

The Overstory

The Overstory by Richard Powers is my favorite new novel in years. It’s well-written, but I have to admit that the main reason for my enjoyment is simply its subject matter and viewpoint. That is the increasingly rare and increasingly needed attitude that life beyond humans matters and that the real real world is not economics and politics. The only time you might find more references to trees in a book is if you’re reading a field guide.

The first third of the book is a series of chapters which introduce the main characters, some of whom will later interact directly while others will affect lives indirectly. Each of these chapters stands alone as a fine short story.

The novel is set primarily in the US of recent decades with parallels to actual events and movements. A sign reads “Earth First! We’ll log the other planets later,” and as one of the novel’s main threads emerged, I imagined a blurb along the lines of “The Thinking Man’s Monkey Wrench Gang”. But this version is more realistic and more serious.

There is a thread about computer games and their creator which, though made relevant to the book’s main subject, didn’t interest me that much. And I wasn’t wild about the ending, but I can’t really imagine a satisfying one to a book such as this. (Happy ending? As I’ve written many times here over the years, it depends on the time frame and the goal one has in mind.) I still intend to buy it and reread it more closely to track the connections I noticed in passing and now would expect.

From comments by the author:

“I happen to believe that collectively, we humans are deeply, dangerously deranged, and that only a profound shift in consciousness and institutions regarding the significance and standing of nonhumans will keep us viable in this place and lift our awful sense of moral abandonment and species loneliness.” Contains plot spoilers, so although there are many good thoughts there making it clear why the book appealed to me, you might want to wait and read the book first.

Posted by: greentangle | April 12, 2018

Glory Days, Part One

Over the years and moves, I’ve thrown out most of the pre-digital photos I had, including some that I can remember very clearly but couldn’t find recently. I decided to put copies of some of the survivors on my computer so I’ve been photographing old photographs and thought I’d share some.

I had some experience with wolves long before I ever moved to Minnesota or Yellowstone. These were taken at an education center in Massachusetts. It still exists but according to their website, contact with the wolves is no longer allowed. Maybe the friendlier wolves died, or someone didn’t have eyes in the back of his head. Even back then, we weren’t allowed in alone, and were told to be alert and ready to follow instructions immediately.

I was also lucky enough to have some experience with raccoons. Not only was I surrounded by this gaze of finger-sucking kits, but my own gaping gaze at a couple getting a taste of the world prior to their release led the photographer to refer to me as the missing Kratt brother.

I’ve always loved fog and mist which was probably one of the reasons I was drawn to Duluth and still mourn the loss of its majestic foghorn. Duluth isn’t in these two old favorites though; instead it’s a black dog walking at Arnold Arboretum in Boston, and the since fallen arch at Tettegouche State Park in Minnesota (I think that may also be the location of an unheated lodge where our book club once had a winter discussion of Walden after hiking in). Seeing the arch reminds me of the many times I saw New Hampshire’s also fallen Old Man of the Mountain, but I have no photos of him.

Laphroaig, Breakfast of Champions. For a little while.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the oft-traveled UP of Michigan, we think, where a barred owl called above our tent. If not, it’s Duluth, and either way, one of my favorite places in the Midwest.

My two dear late companions; Hijack on one of the many moving days he endured during 19 years with me, and young Walden asking for a few more copies of Wild Earth so he could get a better view.

Oh, these things are supposed to go in the water? We thought they were for balance! In western Massachusetts on one of several trips I paid to take with a Boston area group which got people with various disabilities out into the natural world. I wanted more freedom than I would have had as an actual volunteer, but helped out a lot on my own terms.

I have no idea how many trips I made to Concord, but I recently bought the new book The Guide to Walden Pond to relive one aspect of them. Here’s some of the Thoreau Society on top of something. Mount Wachusett, I believe.



Posted by: greentangle | April 10, 2018

The Three Cats of the Apocalypse

Posted by: greentangle | March 15, 2018

The Ice of March

I went walking this morning to an area where bear, deer, and pileated woodpecker sightings had been reported in the past few days.

I didn’t see any of them, only saw old bear tracks by a culvert and heard distant pecking.

But the Lake never lets me down.

I also took videos of it all sloshing around, but those would make you seasick.


Posted by: greentangle | March 10, 2018

Shiny Saturday

It was so bright out that I couldn’t see what was showing up in the viewfinder. I just pointed the camera in the general direction of a shot I liked and clicked. Got a bunch of slanted horizons.


Posted by: greentangle | March 1, 2018

In Like a Lake

Posted by: greentangle | February 18, 2018

Lakeviews (and an Eagle and a Quote)

I went for a walk just as the snow began this morning, and spotted this eagle.

Decided to take some zoom photos from a distance before getting closer. Good decision because this was the last one I got before flight.

“For long moments, I lived in a fantasy that no other person existed, that the lone human soul in all the world stood on that ridge, mesmerized by the bewildering wildness of everything surrounding him. As I stood there with those feelings, a vague unease settled in, one that would come and go throughout my time in Greenland. That feeling was not a sadness per se; rather, it was a quiet longing for things humanity has no words for, but with which wilderness settings overflow. There was a sense of missed opportunities, of an inability to connect with something profound, as though what I was immersed in shimmered incomprehensibly at the edge of sight.”–William Glassley, A Wilder Time


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