Thursday, December 18, 2008

winter pond

It’s always disheartening when a truly wonderful book drops from the bookstore’s shelves. Such is the case with Diana Kappel-Smith’s “Wintering.” Originally published in 1984, and now out of print (the three worst words to any author’s ear) this book is a charmer, a collection of beautifully scribed ponderings centered on the winter landscape of her rural Vermont.

Written with the wide-eyed innocent eye of a curious naturalist and backed up with the real science of a trained biologist, the author uses winter as a backdrop but the musings are larger. Is it even possible for us to truly understand the interwoven workings of the natural world? Is it truly knowable? Are we always doomed to be slack-jawed wonderers?

“I have seen a friend of mine, a brilliant doctor of freshwater biology, stand wide-eyed and immobilized in front of her blackboard, chalk clutched in her hand, intricate graphs and formulae forgotten, because she has said ‘…but every pond is different from every other pond!’ and has just heard herself, with a kind of panic, admit that she knows nothing—nothing beyond the most bland generalities—about a subject on which she has spent half her life,” writes Kappel-Smith.

This book is a delight. Now that winter is here, “Wintering” is a perfect nature book to curl up with on the sofa. Look for it!

According to the counter at the left, this is my 200th posting. Wow!

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