Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What Is Your Favorite Place In Nature?

It's been raining a lot where I grew up in Washington State. The rains and the current essay topic in my composition class, a meditation on nature from a new perspective, prompted me to clip the following Tom Robbins piece:

Back before the earth became a couch potato, content to sit around and watch the action in other galaxies, it displayed a talent for energetic geophysical innovation. Among the lesser known products of our planet’s creative period is a scattering of landlocked “islands,” dramatic humps of preglacial sandstone (covered nowadays with fir and madrona) rising out of the alluvial plain on which I live in northwest Washington State.
Although rugged and almost rudely abrupt, there’s a feminine swell to these outcroppings that reminds me of Valkyrie breasts or, on those frequently drizzly days when they are kimonoed in mist, of scoops of Sung Dynasty puddings.
One of the larger outcroppings—called simply The Rock by its admirers—can be partially negotiated by a four-wheel-drive vehicle. I hike the last one hundred yards through tall, dark trees, and at the summit find that the hump goddesses, as usual, have rolled out the green carpet for me. There’s spongy moss underfoot, a variety of grasses and ferns and more wildflowers than Heidi’s goats could chew up in a fortnight.
In a few more yards, however, I find myself standing on virtually bare sandstone, and that sandstone is falling away away away in a plunge so steep it would be terrifying were it not so beautiful. Perched like Pan on a damp and dizzy precipice, I can look down on gliding eagles, into the privacy of osprey nests, across a verdant luminescence of leaf life and a hidden, lily-padded pond, where in spring a trillion frogs gossip about Kermit’s residuals.
To visit The Rock is to visit a natural frontier both dangerous and comforting, hard and soft, familiar and mysterious. And like Thoreau’s Walden, The Rock defines the boundary between civilization and wilderness, existing as it does twenty minutes via jeep from a bustling town, two seconds via daydream from the beginning of time.

Does anybody out there have interesting nature writing to share?


Bruce Schauble said...

I like Edward Abbey, who everybody knows, and a guy named Robert Finch, who is less well-known. He is or used to be associated with the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. There's something about Finch's writing which is deeply calming and somehow reassuring.

Here's a passage from "Scratching," in _The Primal Place_:

My footsteps push broad sheens of silver wetness out of the saturated sands as I go. Braided veins of water, draining out from under the slope of the beach like reversed river deltas, weave together and follow me in small, meandering streams. The flats here are strewn with the thin, brittle, empty shells of last year's scallop crop, blown ashore and frozen by winter storms; I crunch them underfoot as I go. Small groups of gulls sit quietly on the higher bars, giving me wary, sidelong glances as I pass. They are content, as always, to wait.

C. Watson said...

Thanks. We read "Dawn Walk" in composition, taking inspired walks around Punahou School after reading. I also asked each student to bring in some favorite "nature" writing. It was an interesting collection.