I wonder what it would have been like for an ancient people migrating from an equatorial region and seeing seasons for the first time. Winter would seem like the end of the world…
The trees are dying all around, it’s getting colder and even the sun hides beyond the horizon most of the time. The birds are fleeing, animals are disappearing into hibernation… for someone unprepared, it might have seemed like a worldwide catastrophe, or supernatural evil…
I wonder what myths or religions could have originated in that way…
I know it’s only fall, but winter feels like it’s arrived latley. I’ve missed it! Time for burning fireplaces, scraping windshields, thick jackets and frosty breath. And, more writing?
It seems like fall/winter are more of a time for writing than the warmer times of the year. Of course, I write all year round, but it just seems to fit better in this half of the year.
Maybe my word production will increase as the heat decreases…
It seems that I see more and more crows walking the streets, picking at sidewalk trash in big crowds, not flying away when I come near… is it just me? Or are these birds becoming more a part of the city over time…
It seems to me they’ve learned that humans are not really much of a threat. That they can walk right up to us and we aren’t going to do anything. There have been numerous studies showing how smart crows are, and I think they are adapting and learning to live among us more and more.
A crow neighbor wouldn’t be the worst thing…
Turns out the version I purchased of The Peregrine also contains another writing, ‘Hills of Summer’, so I was much nearer to the end than I thought in my previous post. I’m now finished, and it ends just as it began, with prose of the highest order.
This is the kind of book that can only really be appreciated by someone who is a writer, or someone who reads a LOT, or someone who is a fanatic about nature. Fortunately for me, I am 2.5 of those, so I enjoyed it immensely.
There is barely a plot, so be forewarned. This is, on the surface, a series of journal entries written by someone who is watching hawks(peregrines). Every few days, a journal entry of what he saw that day, focusing on the hawks.
But there is a sort of arc to it. Each entry, the writer gets more and more obsessed with the hawks, and starts to imagine that they are accepting him as one of their own. He writes increasing asides about how humans suck (in prettier words) and the hawks are glorious and amazing. The end of the book is a clear end and is great when you look at the whole thing in context.
But, for someone looking for an actual story with plot and tension and conflict and enemies and goodguys, you’re not going to get that.
What you will get is prose that is so delicious and rich and new and perfect that you’ll be highlighting every other line. And you’ll get birds and nature up to your eyes and beyond, you’ll get imagery so lush you’ll drown in it in the most wonderful way.
If you’re a writer, you’ll appreciate the skill. If you’re a reader of many things you’ll appreciate the newness (maybe) and if you love nature, it will make you feel like you’re out in it.
Give it a shot!
I’m still reading The Peregrine, very slowly because the lack of narrative drive makes it a bit hard to get into. But it is starting to draw me in with the eerie feeling of looking into an alien world, even though all he is describing is perfectly natural Earth.
Seeing the lives of animals without any human involvement gives me a feeling of otherworldlyness, of being somewhere I don’t belong and couldn’t live. The amount of detail and care he puts into the descriptions makes me feel I’m really standing there observing these hawks and crows and ducks and pigeons and starlings and sparrows and all the dozens of other birds he describes. To be there, watching them live their lives and die their deaths, completely uninfluencing and uninfluenced by anything human, has a very alien feeling to it.
The animals of this planet live in their own world, in their own ways, and their lives go on whether we watch them or not.
I recently started reading The Peregrine by J.A. Baker, and am stunned by the beauty of the prose. I have always been endeared by birds and though I’ve never gone birdwatching, this is making me want to.
How he can go on about all the details of how these birds live, and make it so completely engaging and lovely, I don’t even know… I wonder how he can keep this up for an entire novel, and I have no idea, but am excited to find out.
Walking generates ideas. It turns gears that churn the mix in my brain and make new things pop up. However, I’ve found that walking the same geographical location, turns up the same thoughts. It’s as if my mind is walking down it’s own internal path, and passing the same ideas over and over again.
I’ve been stuck on my current novel for a while now. I go out during breaks and walk around and think. But I’ve been coming up with nothing. Today, though, I walked a different path. It was barely different, just slightly off my usual path, facing a new direction, seeing new sights, and it felt as if my mind was pushing through the brush, forging new trails, and I had new ideas. Finally, my block is over, all because I stepped off the path just slightly.
Try it! If you walk or bike or run or drive to think, take a different path than you usually do, and I bet you’ll have some fresh ideas!