this is not a review: ‘treed’, by ariel gordon

 
 

There are certain books that become full-time residents on my coffee table or bedside table or table by the fireplace or sometimes, if the weather is good and the umbrella is up, the patio table. Weeks and weeks go by and the book is there, picked up regularly, set down maybe in a different place to be picked up again. And again. The more I love a book the longer it takes for me to shelve it. Re-reading is a favourite thing. I make meals of sentences, play a scene back in my mind, go back a page and work my way up to it again. I will read the same story or essay or poem over three days in a row, each time finding another layer of meaning or pleasure, some image initially missed.

Treed is one of those books. Currently living on my coffee table, this wonderful collection of essays makes me happy to know it’s there to fulfill any sudden craving I have for a discussion of tree love or a vicarious forest walk with one of CanLit’s most enthusiastic (and real life) forest walkers, the Winnipeg writer and poet, Ariel Gordon.

Gordon has a penchant for the urban forest and after reading about the trees of Winnipeg you practically want to book a flight and see it all for yourself. But you don’t have to… she’s very good at giving you the vicarious experience and her enthusiasm for woodland (& other) greenery is inspiring, the kind of person who instinctively sees, hears, thinks, imagines… who wonders and is constantly curious and learning, finding nothing in the natural world dull.

Just beyond the slough is a big old trembling aspen that has strange vertical scars on it at about chest height. It takes me a few minutes to realize that these are bear scratch marks, which makes me walk faster.

Gordon well knows that even along the same path through the same park or the same neighbourhood street, if you’re open to using all your senses, no two walks are ever the same.

When I was younger, I resisted naming. But I’ve realized, over time, that this tree, that tree, the other tree isn’t as precise as it could be. Names allow us, as writer and reader, to know that we’re talking about the same things. They’re suitcases that carry not only simply information but also historical allusions and memories of what it is like to stand in a field and be surprised by herd of white-tailed deer, for instance. It reminds us of the quality of the sun on their dun backs, little bluestem grass grinding between their teeth, the rattling leaves of trembling aspen on the breeze, the way the doe’s ears telescope at the least noise.

The next paragraph begins: I’ve started spying on barn swallows.

I love how she compares the community of trees to urban communities, the purpose of a tree’s architecture as important as streetlights, the grid patterns of roads. There’s so much to see and discover in her world of trees and, I’ll confess, while I, too, have never found a dull moment on any walk or in any part of nature, Gordon’s writing has made me see trees, specifically and  individually, where once I saw merely the beauty of the whole landscape.

In ‘Outage’, Gordon recalls a week spent in a farmhouse where she intends to spend her time writing but ends up paying attention to the stories and the life around her instead and we are so glad she did.

I come with my own stories and somehow land right in the middle of Sharron and Kerry’s, and through them, Ken and Alverna’s, to the first settlers on the land and the residents of Sandy Bay First Nation, moved and moved again to make room for those settlers.

In ‘Winter Walk’ she writes:

My favourite thing about a real xmas tree? Being alone with it…. I sit in the warm half-dark by myself and smell the tree’s piney scent. I sit quietly, sipping tea or sucking  on a shard of candy cane, and listen to my own heartbeat. I breathe tree.

A tree covered in vines that turn out to be tiny grapes inspires sentences like this:

Eating them – popping the grapes with my teeth and separating the flesh from the seeds with my tongue – is like completing a puzzle with my face.

In ‘Emergency Carrots’ she weaves various threads (including carrots), the memory of trees past and present, with concern for her husband’s health and safety, and it’s all so seamless. (It’s hard to pick a favourite from among the book’s sixteen essays, but this one’s a gem.)

And from ‘The Social Life of Urban Forests’:  

… every settled place across North America had elms and, eventually, an elm canopy. The arches of elm trees that we’ve cultivated here are just as much a construction as the streetlights, as the layout of the streets, their strange grids and confusions. Our communities of trees are as deliberate as the communities we build among ourselves.

The ending of this piece is simply beautiful… Gordon writes about trees that are marked to be taken down due to disease or other reasons, the stumps she finds in her travels, trees already felled… and if you weren’t at the start, by now you’re with her, not only in awareness, but empathy for the trees around us, those we take for granted on streets and boulevards, the urban canopies, the forest and field and farmland trees… and so when she tells you she sometimes stands on those stumps, stretches out her arms and reaches for the sun… you can hardly think of a sweeter homage.

 

 

this is not a review: ‘the triumphant tale of the house sparrow’, by jan thornhill

 

I was surprised and delighted by the adulty appeal of Jan Thornhilll’s The Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow … technically a picture book (with wonderful illustrations) but the kind that bears reading by all ages for a sort of Coles Notes (do they still exist?) version of a subject that can then be pursued in longer form if you need/want more info. Though, honestly, there’s plenty here, enough that after reading it will surely be  impossible to look at this bird quite the same way.

Given the title, and the opening sentence…

“Behold the most despised bird in human history.”

… we can (rightly) assume there will be some adventurous backstory to follow, i.e. how did it get from Most Despised to Triumphant?

Also, and not that I think about sparrows a lot, but I didn’t know they were so universally (and for thousands of years) disliked. I assumed some people just didn’t like them in the way some people don’t like clowns. (Which is completely understandable.)

But no. It’s much bigger than that and, most interesting of all, their dislikeability has a lot to do with us, with our lifestyle. Because what we know for sure is they love to hang around us, like those friends who think we’re all having such a good time that they forget to go home.

This wasn’t always the case.

What happened was, we invented agriculture.

We began growing fields of grain and the sparrow, a bird that used to migrate in search of food, suddenly didn’t need to leave town so it stayed and ate that nicely planted all you can eat buffet. It came into cities and towns too, because we had horses that were fed buckets of grain. And it hung around our houses because of crumbs from tablecloths shaken out the back door, and several other surprising sources. Long story short, it became a house sparrow.

And we got cranky.

In Egypt the sparrow surplus was handled by using them as pet food. (Often found in the mummified stomachs of beloved animals.)

In Germany there was a sparrow bounty, a required number of heads had to be handed in or fines were imposed.

In China people were encouraged to bang pots twenty four hours a day in grain fields to stop the birds from landing, which worked exceptionally well… so well in fact that zillions of birds fell from the sky, exhausted and dead, and the crops died from an infestation of bugs that would have normally been eaten by the sparrows.

In cities they were noisy and just plain bothersome. In one incident, a single sparrow found its way into a large hall where a Guiness-records-sized domino display had been set up with millions of dominos… the sparrow landed and over 20,000 toppled over before they could stop the domino effect. But the bird was still in the building and naturally they worried about the other ten trillion dominos so they hired a professional hunter to come and shoot the bird, which is now stuffed in a museum. (The bird not the hunter.)

In a way, the sparrow’s biggest crime is its adaptability and how its population tends to increase along with our own. (Though we seem not to complain the same way about people numbers.)

However, mysteriously, and for some very many years now, sparrow numbers have been in decline. The Netherlands, for one, has declared them a protected species and, as Jan Thornhill points out, this might well beg some attention:

“Because the House Sparrow normally lives its whole life in a very small area, it can be a living indicator of pollutants in that place. To scientists, it is just like a canary in a coal mine — except that coal mine is our urban environment. Since the House Sparrow lives where we live, wouldn’t it be smart to figure out why it’s disappearing? What if the culprit is something that is as unhealthy for humans as it is for the House Sparrow?”

I think this book, generally, deserves all kinds of attention, not only as it relates to house sparrows, but what it represents in how we so often look at nature, what’s taken for granted, the problems we ourselves have created and now blame on the natural world, much of which is merely doing its best to tolerate us.

The picture book format works well because the amount of text is just right for that Coles Notes gleaning. Any less wouldn’t do the subject justice. But it’s also too much for a picture-book age child to absorb on their own, so it becomes ideal as a read-aloud-and-discuss. Followed, of course, by a sparrow finding expedition, photographs, drawings, and chirping!

So much to love here.

Also, would be brilliant in schools. (Do they still do nature as a subject?)

 

 

Purchased at Books Galore, in Port Perry.

Support indies!!

the war on litter: notes from the front line

 

Actually, not so much notes as questions.

For instance…

All those festively coloured bags of doggie doo-doo you see on boulevards, sidewalks, parks, woodlands. Are dog walkers notoriously butter-fingered, i.e. are all those bags unknowingly dropped? Or have they been set down with the idea of being retrieved on the return trip (after all, who wants to carry crud AND a Timmy’s while strolling) and then forgotten when a different route home is decided upon? Or just forgotten. And those baggies all chubby with doo doo tied to fences or hanging from trees. What is that??  The result of someone coming along, finding a dropped bag and thinking: hmmm… let’s see what could be the best possible move here… oh, I know!  Or do the dog walkers themselves use the baggies as a sort of code among themselves? (If so, please let me in on it, because I’m an occasional dog walker myself.)

Also… people who enjoy a walk (with or without furry friends), who choose to ramble in the pristine beauty of a forest, conservation area or field of buttercups, the beach or any shoreline… and yet somehow find it normal to drop their drinking cups, cans, bottles and chip bags like breadcrumbs as they go. Why are you walking in pristine beauty when you obviously don’t like pristine beauty? Wouldn’t it make more sense for you to stretch your legs at the dump? Wouldn’t you feel more at home there??  Serious question.

And speaking of cups, cans and bottles. (And bags of doo doo for that matter.) Please don’t chuck them under trees. It just makes it harder for me to ferret them out. (FYI — they don’t magically become invisible under there)

Oh, and to the black Honda with tinted windows in front of me as I left the Bulk Barn the other day, whose passenger threw a plastic cup out the window while I watched, stunned:  I’m sorry I didn’t gather my moxie in time to put my car in Park, get out, knock on your tint and ask you in my best inquiring-minds-want-to-know voice, what the [redacted] is wrong with you. Again, serious question:  How messed up is your life that you have so little regard for the planet and what can we do to help you?

And here’s something I learned recently… cigarette butts take forever to decompose. In the meantime they clog and poison land and waterways and are often found inside fish. Yum!  But even if they didn’t do all that harm, chucking your smokes is very Honey Boo Boo.  Seriously, people who empty ashtrays on parking lots or throw butts out car windows or onto the street… please go live on another planet. Because, wouldn’t you like that, to be among all your like-minded friends, each of you knee deep in schmutz??**

Serious question.

** Of course more garbage cans and public ashtrays wouldn’t go amiss either.

Write letters, people! Ask for what’s needed.

Read the story that goes with this pic, here.

From The Litter I See Project.

this is not a review: ‘why shouldn’t i drop litter’? by mj knight

 
I’ve recently set out on a quest for trashy reading and have been happily led to what appears to be not only a most wonderful book on the subject of litter but to a whole line of (very smart) books being published by Smart Apple Media, primarily for schools as far as I can make out, but they’re such excellent things it would be a shame not to flaunt them more broadly.

Formatted as one of those hardcover, mini encyclopedia for kids, Why Shouldn’t I Drop Litter?  opens with a colour photo of autumn leaves on the ground and the reminder that this, too, is called ‘litter’, leaf litter.  The difference being that “Nature has ways of dealing with things that are no longer wanted…”

And with that perfectly passive aggressive irony, we enter the book by addressing a few facts about ourselves and how much we throw away every year (about five pounds per person  EVERY DAY). That *you*, personally, don’t throw that much away doesn’t matter. It’s not a problem that’s searching for someone to blame. It’s a problem that requires everyone to take responsibility. At least everyone who lives on the planet.

The pages, 32 of them, are beautifully laid out and not crowded with information in the way this style of book can sometimes be. Nor is its intention to scold or even shock. Rather, it seems only to want to remind us of the consequences of litter, that something which seems so trivial and innocuous has all kinds of horrible consequences.

Hedgehogs, for example, tend to get stuck in yoghurt containers because their quills make it impossible to back out.

Used or tangled fishing lines are often cut and left in the water (because we’re such geniuses). And if you can’t understand how this is dangerous for birds, fish, turtles, dolphins, etc…. google fishing lines/wildlife  sometime. Meanwhile, here’s a two minute story with a happy ending.

And those plastic holders that six-packs come in? If you haven’t yet heard, all kinds of birds and animals, fish too, get them wrapped around their beaks, bodies or necks and die that way. If you see one laying around, please pick it up. You may save a life, and you won’t die of cooties.

Oh, but if it’s germs you’re worried about, consider the gum that’s all over pavement everywhere. It costs between $2 and $3.50  PER PIECE to scrape off. Apparently no one has yet figured out a better way to remove it. Probably because all the money and brainpower is working on how to inhabit Mars (which will only remain gum free until we get there).

One of the biggest problems in the matter of waste is that which comes from fast food restaurants. Our convenience is apparently nature’s problem. It’s no small potatoes what we choose to support with our dollars. When we give all the money and power to fast food places we shouldn’t be asking ourselves why standards are slipping everywhere we look.

(Of note: interesting how people will throw money at the burger joint that happily pollutes the world for profit, but the same person resents paying a few extra bucks to keep a community well supplied with garbage cans.)

The problem is always us.

The solutions too.

It’s about the choices we make.

Anyway, the book is part of Smart Apple Media’s ‘One Small Step’  imprint, which seems designed to inspire engagement in our individual slivers of the world, to encourage us to understand that problems like litter are not someone else’s problem, but something we can work together to improve.

I think it would make dandy reading for families that give a hoot.

~

Also, if you come across books that deal effectively with the subject of litter, garbage, recycling, you get the idea… please let me know. I’m compiling a list for The Litter I See Project.

A million thanks.

 

ways to bee nice and messy

DSC05896
Don’t fret if you don’t see honey bees in your yard.
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According to this piece by Eric Atkins, there are dozens of other kinds.

All are important. All are pollinators.
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And they want to live in the messy bits of your garden.
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So make sure you have a few messy bits.

DSC05913Piles of rocks and sticks.

Also a fairie beach does not go amiss…
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General rule of thumb appears to be this:  don’t over-rake, over-prune or anally tidy every last bit of the outdoors.

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If you must be anal, you can always go inside and clean your house.
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As for those honeybees…seems we ought not to become amateur bee keepers as we risk doing more harm than good in spreading disease and parasites.
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In other words: leave beekeeping to the pros.
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And create friendly environments instead  for all those OTHER bees, i.e. leafcutters, bumblebees, sweaters and miners.

Bonus:  because the natural world is naturally diverse, to allow a bit of the ‘natural’ will result in fewer bad bug infestations.

DSC05899Also,

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—when buying plants and seeds, check with the grower  or nursery about use of neonicotinoids. More and more growers are choosing not to use them, but only because more and more people are asking questions and raising a fuss.
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Ask questions.

Raise a fuss.
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The bees will thank you.
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And we’ll continue thanking the bees.
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As we should.

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Without them we’re pretty much landscaped toast.

 

(at)eleven with brenda schmidt: flight calls–an apprentice on the art of listening

 

I discovered Brenda Schmidt’s work through her blog with the curious title: Alone on a Boreal Stage and was immediately hooked by her nature photography, often presented with a poetic twist, a caption or some element of surprise. Over the years I’ve learned she also paints, covets all manner of culverts and cake and has published four poetry collections, two of which I’ve since had the pleasure of reading, both of which I return to often for bits of wonderfulness such as this, from Grid, and the poem, ‘Yes Bobolinks’ 

“Even the abandoned buildings, most windowless,/ without paint, some with porches leaning, reminded me/ a group of Bobolinks is a chain, and any chain that dark/ can pull you thorugh a mud hole and back again.”

and in Cantos from Wolverine Creek, I adore ‘Pigs’ for its non-romantic look at human and ‘other’ nature.

It’s like going to a spa.
Skins are dehaired in scalding soda solution
then sit and swell in cold mineral acid.

After that they take a dip
in hydrochloric, then sulfuric,
and follow that with a cold shower.

All that just to be transformed
for you, to sit there on your spoon,
to slide down your throat so easily.

She doesn’t pull punches—words and images are precise, evoking emotions we both revel in and are sometimes uncomfortable with, but only for as long as it takes to recognize them as true. My kind of thing. So when I heard she’d come out with a collection of essays I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy—a situation quickly remedied by a call to my trusty bookseller.

The very title of the collection intrigued me. Flight Calls—An Apprentice on the Art of Listening promises a birdish focus but I suspected there would be much more. A keen observer of Schmidt_thhow nature fits into the ‘elseness’ of life as we’ve shaped it, Schmidt packs these 113 pages with connections between the incongruous and presents them as merrily wrapped gifts, the contents of which seem to surprise even her. But then the essays are about discovery and how it’s only ever the tip of the iceberg that we find; whether it be the world around us, the people in it, the essence of anything is what we remember and what we convey, and if we can manage that much, it’s plenty.

In her Introduction Schmidt explains how the essays evolved from writing prompts in the form of epigraphs from her mentor, Gerald Hill. A personal letter to Hill from Schmidt runs as an undercurrent throughout, a few paragraphs of which follow each essay. It’s an intimate, strangely integral and beautiful part of the text in which the author’s voice shifts to a different kind of reflection as she shares a different part of herself with the reader. It feels like a whole other gift as our perceptions also shift and we listen in on this private revelation/confession/one-sided chat.

“I suppose there’s a word for this kind of letter. Here we are, five pages later, and nothing but forest. But there you have it. No matter how careful I am with my feet, each step makes noise. I make myself heard. Things slip away in the underbrush. Others freeze and I walk right by. I’ve spent half my life trying to make sense of this place, but I still feel lost. Unwelcome. Less than half a life to go and I still haven’t got the orchids straight…”

In one of my favourite essays, ‘Snap’, which is both about ptarmigans and learning to trust one’s instincts, she says of knowing the difference between procrastination and ‘percolation’: “Procrastination is a brackish lake in the flypath of my mind.”

I love a line I can pin over my desk, one that ‘snaps’ me back to a finer point of clarity, if only for a millisecond. Sometimes it’s enough to change everything.

Schmidt writes gorgeously about the natural world and how she feels as she moves through it, how she’s humbled, puzzled, concerned. But never does she sentimentalize. And so, while she includes poetic elements: “Memories are like cowbirds. An image flies into mind unbidden and leaves behind an egg. It hatches early and demands to be fed. It quickly grows into a monster, removing other nestlings, but the monster is yours. You can’t stop feeding it.” you stay balanced between the beauty and the sometimes not so perfect—being charged by a bear, storms, thunder, darkness, the look in the eyes of a dying insect. She writes from the perspective of a flawed human, from awe and curiousity, stepping always closer on the reader’s behalf, and when she writes that “A Turkey Vulture lifts its head from the belly of a skunk and watches us pass.” we don’t cringe because we’ve come to trust that she’s only telling us how she finds it, sees and hears it. It’s up to us what we receive.

—It’s been a delight and a pleasure not only to read her, but to have some fun with this Q&A.

Please note: as is tradition in the @Eleven series, the Q&A is followed by my idea of the perfect meal to complement this book.
Why?
Oh, no reason. I just like food and books. And people who like food and books.

And on that note, may I present… Brenda Schmidt.

The Eleven

1.   What literary character did you identify with as a child?

BS—Nancy Drew.

2.   What were you reading at age ten? At fifteen?

BS—I read anything and everything at that time. The Western Producer. Field & Stream. Outdoor Life. Reader’s Digest. The Hardy Boys. Harlequins. Zane Gray. Ludlum after Ludlum.  Hemingway.

3.  When did you begin writing and can you recall some aspect/premise of an early (never-before-seen-by-human-eyes-and-never-will-be-as-long-as-you-can-help-it) work? I’m wondering if nature has always been an inspiration or was there a time you wrote about the ballet or mused poetically about life as the owner of a newsstand in downtown Saskatoon…  You’re also a painter. One would think it’s a perfect complement to the writing, a respite from the words. Is that how it works for you?

BS—I imagine I began writing as soon as I learned to spell. Nature was it from the get-go I think. I liked playing outside, climbing trees and hanging out with other animals. I didn’t like dolls or kitchens or tea parties. I did write the odd story about love and war when I was a kid, likely influenced by the news and what I was reading. Drawing and painting used to happen right along with the writing. I’m at odds with my brushes these days.

4.  Can you share a favourite line, or passage from any source… and what it means to you?

BS—“Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.” – Anne Enright, from “Ten rules for writing fiction” http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one

I think it sums up what being a writer is all about. It sums up what I try to do.

5.  Do you find certain recurring themes  in your work? What are some of the things you tend to explore again and again?

BS—I don’t know. Questions of theme are harder to answer each time I encounter them. I read the back covers of some of my books with nothing but curiosity. I can speak to images a little better perhaps. I do know I tend to mull over particular recurring images, but the juxtapositions are always different and so is the thinking. Images are like buckets of sand. You can build anything. The bucket makes a difference. So does water, the beach, the amount of time you’ve been in the sun. It all suggests what needs to be built at that moment.

6.  Flight Calls is such a perfect title given that the essays are written as a response to the ‘call’ of epigraphs, writing prompts, from your mentor, Gerald Hill. In the Introduction, you say you were intrigued by an article about the power of epigraphs to influence the reading of a text and wondered how they “might affect the writing of a text”. You explain that while you had a sense of what you wanted to write about, i.e. ‘the art of listening’, you began the essays only after receiving all ten prompts. Was it what you expected? Were there surprises in the process of writing this collection? Is it difficult writing to an epigraph? Did some of them baffle you or merely lead you in unexpected directions?

BS—I didn’t know what to expect. I was excited by the idea and just concentrated on doing the work. I decided on the title of the book before I asked Gerry for the ten epigraphs. The epigraphs were a constraint. A foundation of sound. There was no escaping them. With the epigraphs in hand, I came up with ten titles and ten ideas for essays and went from there. Each day before I began work on an essay I’d read the epigraph aloud and that was that. I trusted it would resonate in some way. Everything that followed was a surprise. I just tried to relax and let myself go wherever the essay wanted. In his book Listening, the philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy says “to listen is to be straining toward a possible meaning.”  I love that. It speaks well to what I was attempting with these essays.  I never did relax. I was straining the whole time.

7 In the essay ‘Snap’ you say: “The writing hadn’t been going well, so I put on my parka and… headed out into the cold.” And later, in ‘Call Notes’: “I’d spent the day fighting with a single paragraph. It still wasn’t right. I needed to get out. The darkness often breaks me out of the pen, so to speak, when my writing seems to be going nowhere.”  Your need for the outdoors strikes me as more than just a writer taking a walk to clear their head, more like fuel. And so I wondered… what would happen to your writing if, as an experiment, you were asked to work in a hermetically sealed, windowless room with no outdoor privileges? [I know, I know, this is an awful image for someone like you. But that’s why I ask: what would be different? What would be impossible?]

BS—What a horrifying thought. I can’t imagine.

8.  It’s said that poetry grows out of attention to detail. One could say the same of all art forms, but, in your opinion, what determines how those details take shape, why these become an essay, and those a poem? And do the tools necessary to construct one or the other occupy different compartments of the mind? Or—how’s this—let’s talk cake:  if the poetic form is a petit four, the essay is_______________.

BS—Meringue.

9.  The letter to ‘Gerry’, one page of which appears at the end of each essay. Beautiful. You sound almost daunted as you begin the project and it makes a lovely juxtaposition to the journey, through which you ultimately discover that “Listening is a full-body experience…”. I’m curious though: had you received the epigraphs yet when you wrote the letter? I’m wondering at your mood and what you wanted to get across to him that you didn’t think the essays would.

BS—Thank you. Like the essays, the letter was written after I received the epigraphs. I initially thought I’d link the essays with linked prose poems as a way of going back in and rethinking and responding, of straining some more, but after staring at the epigraphs on my bulletin board it struck me that I never call him by the given, formal “Gerald.” I call him “Gerry,” personal and familiar. The structural potential hit me then. I thought I’d address him directly in an apprentice-to-mentor letter and see what happens.

10. You’re a pretty serious birder. With a cat. Any conflicts there? 

BS—Ha!

11. Choices: 

Fall or Spring?   Fall AND spring. Times of migration. Heavenly seasons.

Pen or Keyboard?   Keyboard nowadays.

Bob Dylan or Dylan Thomas?   Bob some days, Dylan others. I’m so inconsistent.

Pizza or Pasta?   Pizza. Homemade, topped with just a little olive oil and feta.

Ptarmigan or Owl?   Ptarmigan. They are the imagination embodied. I imagine an owl will be the last thing I hear before I croak.

Fruit or Veg?   Veg. Not a fan of citrus. Oranges are scary. Apples are weird.

Canoe or Kayak?  Kayaks excite me when I see them. I think I’d be too squirrely for a canoe. Canoeists seem so composed.  I can’t swim, so I have nothing to do with either in any real way.

Mittens or Gloves?  Mittens! My fingers hate to be separated.

Fiction or Non?  Trick question!

Desert Isle or Ice Hotel?  Ice please. Heat kills me.

Butterscotch or Strawberry?  Butterscotch. Strawberries kill me.

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The perfect meal to accompany this book, as chosen by me—

Carrot Cake

followed by

Cheesecake

followed by

Chocolate Cake

(the book has nothing to do with cake; I only know that after reading it I do not feel like eating chicken)

♦◊♦

Brenda picBrenda Schmidt is a writer, visual artist and naturalist based in Creighton, a mining town on the Canadian Shield in northern Saskatchewan.  She is the author of four books  of poetry, A Haunting Sun (Thistledown Press, 2001), More than Three Feet of Ice (Thistledown Press, 2005), Cantos from Wolverine Creek (Hagios Press, 2008), Grid (Hagios Press, 2012), and a book of essays Flight Calls: An Apprentice on the Art of Listening (Kalamalka Press, 2012).

Both Grid and Flight Calls are shortlisted for Saskatchewan Book Awards.

http://birdschmidt.blogspot.ca/