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auntieannie

auntieannie

Currently reading

Paddy's Lament, Ireland 1846-1847: Prelude to Hatred
Thomas Gallagher
Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One
Jenny K. Blake
When in French: Love in a Second Language
Lauren Collins
Beyond the Job Description: How Managers and Employees Can Navigate the True Demands of the Job
Jesse Sostrin
Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing
David Hubel, Margaret S. Livingstone
Achieving Your Potential As A Photographer: A Creative Companion and Workbook
Harold Davis
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
Sherry Turkle
Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs (Voices That Matter)
Roberto Valenzuela
Man's Search for Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl, Harold S. Kushner
Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection
Jacob Silverman

Reading the Landscape of America

Reading the Landscape of America - May Theilgaard Watts Close reading at its utmost. Some of these essays were just mesmerizing to me. From a visit to Plum Island, Newburyport, MA. "Glacial meltwater, and the wind, and the sea, freezing and thawing, and the rain, each had a hand in shaping, jumbling, transporting, selecting, the grains that composed my handful of sand. The hand lens showed round grains, angular grains, long narrow grains -- no flaky grains, because the sea had kept the flakes of mica and floated them away. Most abundant were the angular, glassy, larger flakes of quartz. There were plenty of the smaller, rounded, pinkish or light-gray grains of feldspar -- the stuff of the clay that the glacier shaped into the boat-shaped drumlins of Boston, one of them to become the setting for the battle of Bunker Hill. There were dark-grey to blackish grains. Some of them must have been hornblende. (Late, at home, we got out a magnet and drew it through the sand to select the dark grains of hematite or ilmentite that were there. Such bits of iron were oxidized by the acid waters of bogs on Martha's Vineyard to form bog-iron to make the cannon balls fired by Old Ironsides.) p.23-24About two businessmen on a plane trip:"Eventually, perhaps, Dun and Bradstreet may list a man's evergreen status. As a criterion of success, it seems to be finding popular acceptance, especially in landscapes from which Nature long ago eliminated the evergreen." p.196Flying from Chicago to Dayton and observing the land from above:"The pattern of the square is a rare one in living things. Flowers are most often 5-parted, less often 3-parted, and seldom 4-parted. It is true, there are some 4-parted ones: the mustards, poppies, and olives are in fours; and the mints have square stems, as do the blue ash and usually the euonymus. But even these squares are softened by flowing contours. The spiral appears over and over again: in the center of a sunflower head; in the outward corkscrewing of a twig; in the downward thrust of a root tip; in the ascent of a vine. The circle and the five-pointed star are often repeated, the triangle, too. But not the square." p.198Driving from Chicago to Atlantic City. This essay blew me away. "As we approached the bulk of US Steel, beer signs accumulated. And then we were poured into one of those humanity gutters officially called interstate highways, which are grafted onto the landscape hot off a drawing board, and bear no relationship to shapes molded by life and time. We were welcomes by a huge sign: "Main Street of the Midwest." What presumption to elect itself to represent all the thousands of real main streets: busy or sleeping; paved or mud; with hitching-posts or parking places; with butcher shops with sawdust on the floor, or with supermarkets; with general stores selling overalls for work, or with boutiques selling overalls for fashion; with feed feed stores, or with laundromats. What presumption!But ahead there were low places loud with the ratchet sound of cricket frogs, and higher places with last year's corn-patches; and then there was a succession of low dunes, where black oaks gestured jerkily." p.204"The farms that had been brought up and absorbed into the wide fields that fitted the new machinery had usually left something to tell of their existence. Sometimes the foundation of the farmhouse and barn were still showing; some farms had only a surviving clump of lilacs or a hearty stand of daylilies beside the road, or a drift of lily of the valley, or a pair of thriving Austrian pines, to show that a farm family had made their homeplace pleasant. Sometimes the new owner left the pump standing, or the cement stairs that had led up to the front porch. We watched hard for as many of these evidences as we could find, knowing that soon the powerful tractors will rebel at going around relices, and turn it all under and smooth it over for corn or soy beans. A way of life is past." p.220From the Plains to the timberline in the Rockies. "One of my feet sank deep into the snow with a suddenness that toppled me over. I pulled it out, and went on, and sank through again. This time it was not so easy to pull out. I looked down into a surprisingly big cavity, and found that I had one foot tangled in greenness, vivid, alive greenness. Just then my companion went down sideways. As she struggled to get up, she called out, "I'm in a treetop, it seems."We were not above the timber line at all, But we had reached the height at which no tree, or no part of a tree, can endure the winter, except by hiding. We had broken through, down into the hiding place." p.239