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Thread: Nature Writing

  1. #16
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    I liked the descriptions of St Petersburg. I’ve never been there either. When I read a particularly artful description, I find myself slowing down and enjoying the view, much like hiking to the top of a rise and taking in a beautiful sunset. Ya just gotta stop and take it in, smell the roses so to speak. I suppose the style of writing matches the style of reading. I’ll zip through an action scene to see what happens, and I’ll race through a journalistic article to get the information, but I’ve gotta slow down to absorb a bella vista.

    I’m currently reading two books that have nature-writing possibilities: the first one is a collection of essays by Susan Orleans - On Animals, the second one is a sometimes funny sometimes tragic book by Mary Roach - Fuzz, When Nature Breaks The Law.

    This is from the Mary Roach book. She’s with a Colorado Wildlife Official visiting an Aspen house that’s just been broken into by a bear:

    This bear reminds Breck of one that was breaking into Aspen homes back when his study was underway here. They called him Fat Albert. “He was just kinda a laid-back. He’d gently open a door of a cabin, go in, eat some food, and leave. People would go, ‘Wow, he didn’t destroy my place at all.’” That’s why he was fat, and that’s why he was alive. There’s more tolerance for a bear like that.
    Sounds like the lady-dove in Praça Roosevelt is doing the right thing - playing hard to get. Don’t get too eager, sister. Make him work for it. I have been down to that neighborhood. I remember walking around there early in the morning and enjoying the feel of the place. Theater district, right? We stayed at a hotel on Ave Paulista, so it was a short walk over there, and I like to walk. I also like to run, so in general I’d go the other direction and take jog on the paths around The Ibirapuera Park.

    As for underground Montreal, I agree, not very scenic, but warm. They used to have a Swedish restaurant down there called Mövenpick. It was a lot of fun. You’d check in and they’d give you a card and then you could go around to a bunch of different food stations and pick out you wanted, and they’d stamp your card. Then you’d pay when you left. The locals called the Mövenpick the “Move and Pick”. Anyway, my kind of place, you don’t have to sit around and wait for a waiter. They used to have one in Boston too.

  2. #17
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    It’s Susan Orlean not Susan Orleans.

    Swine spell checker!

    Been reading her stuff in The New Yorker for years.

  3. #18
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Jan 2016
    Beyond nowhere
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    Slowing down is just what I´m doing presently. Petersburg is a gem of a book and I think it shows the transition between the 19C and the 20 C novel. People were still discovering the multiple uses and effects of electric light. But I'm reading its about 800 pages slowly. Each section of chapter seems to contain scenes more than a narrative and some of these scenes are very powerful.

    Petersburg is, of course, an urban novel. It seems to be( I am to much in the beginning) about a young man, who haunts people running around in a red domino costume and who is probably getting involved with a political group that goes at the establishment of a bureaucratic Russia which is represented by the domino youth´s own father. All this is built up very slowly.
    So there is not much nature writing in the novel. But here is a passage that fits our theme (although nature here seems to have a more symbolic use):

    "Those were strange, misty days: across the north of Russia venomous October was passing with its freezing tread; and across the south it draped dank mists. Venomous October fanned the forest’s golden whisper, and the forest’s golden whisper submissively lay down upon the ground—and the rustling purple of the aspens submissively lay down upon the ground, to wind and chase at the feet of a passing pedestrian, and to murmur as it wove from leaves a red-and-yellow web of words. That sweet chirruping of blue tits that in September bathes in waves of foliage had long since ceased to bathe in foliage: and the blue tit herself was now hopping forlornly in the black network of boughs, which all autumn long, like the mumble of a toothless dotard, sends its whistle from the forests, leafless groves, the gardens and the parks.

    Those were strange, misty days; an icy hurricane was making its approach in tattered clouds, leaden and blue; but everyone believed in spring: the newspapers wrote about spring, officials of the fourth class discussed spring; a minister who was popular at the time pointed to spring; and the effusions of a Petersburg girl-student carried the scent of nothing less than violets in early May."

    Lol! I fully agree about your comment on the smart lady-dove. In earlier times, when it wasn´t forbidden, I used to feed some doves on my window sill. There was a doverick I named Macho-Man after the son. Well nourished and with shining feathers, when he chose to execute his dance an d he chose it often, there wasn´t any room left for anybody else.

    Ibirapuera is still beautiful an Pça. Roosevelt is still a Theater District. The building where I live is, in fact, very near of the Teatro Cultura Artística which you might have known. The theater burnt down parcially in 2008. Efforts have been made since then to rebuild it, but the money seems to have run out in the middle of it, and the half done building stands abandoned.

    Pandemic closed a lot of restaurants here in my region. But there are still some good self services left, where one can pic and chose the dishes and they are not so expensive. I visited a Mövenpick with my father the one time I went to Switzerland, but there you ordered the food from the menu.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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