Monday, August 23, 2010
Settled in the Wind
"At night when storms shriek at the corners of our houses, the ice at the bay in the first light is a train wreck, a pile-up of white boxcars, a sprawl of icicle-dripping flatbeds. But on the next windless day, the tide comes in beneath the broken pieces, and the beautiful pale green water rises gently between them. It pools on their surfaces, smoothes their edges, binds the ice fast to itself again. Dozens of times a winter the ice fractures apart, heals, and grows thicker.
These are the nights we let ourselves think that winter--this particular winter--will be the one that goes on forever. We start to lose the memory of what spring smells like, the feel of summer's warmth against out skin.
In March, the ice shifts over and over in its shallow bed. It sounds as if it is groaning, as if it can't get comfortable. Day after day, it melts. It freezes. Melts. Then a rough spring tide knocks the whole thing to pieces. One day, open water appears, blue-black and puckered with sharp waves."
This is one of my favorite sections from Settled in the Wild, Notes from the Edge of Town by Susan Hand Shetterly.
For the past thirty years, Shetterly has lived and written about nature and in Settled, published this year, "she turns her attention to the ways humans and animals share the land, especially as our mutal habitat is changing."
Like a modern day Rachel Carson, of sorts, she "takes a magnifying glass" and in equisite detail writes about the nature surrounding her tiny cabin in the woods at the water's edge.
If you've ever been to Maine or to any of the few remaining truly wild areas you will feel as if you're standing beside her witnessing, first hand, what she writes so skillfully, honestly, brutally and lovingly about. Through keen observation she inspires readers to, "preserve our shared surroundings, not only because wild animals and wild land make our settled lives deeply connected to our home places, but because the power to protect them rests with us."
Isn't this the truth?