Saturday, August 29, 2015

Get-Under-Your-Skin Books

Here are nine "Get-Under-Your-Skin" books: The Story of My Teeth; Hopscotch; The Illogic of Kassel (these three written by Spanish-speaking authors - all deal with art, philosophy, and life); The Story of the Lost ChildBallad of the Black and Blue Mind; Fifteen Dogs; The Incarnations; The Casualties, and Fortune Smiles. Read them and see if you agree.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

N is for Nature

I'm a walker. The art of slow travel, like slow food (or slow anything for that matter), allows me to savor the smallest details of life, stop to investigate, ask questions, engage on a more intimate level with the physical world, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral. I've done regular 4-5 mile daily walks wherever I've found myself in the world, e.g. New York City (here and here), and Berlin (herehere, and here. In the past handful of years, this has meant (with the exception of stints in China and in Europe) walking (interspersed with 13-mile bike rides) in Chicago-area forest preserves.

In tandem with these walks and rides, I've become more interested in reading about the natural world. In particular, I've enjoyed the following books which have served to simultaneously narrow and broaden my focus as I make my way through the woods either on foot or on wheels: A Philosophy of Walking; Wild; Limber; H is for Hawk; The Wallcreeper; At Hawthorn Time; Fifteen Dogs; and The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs.

I haven't yet learned to tell time by the moon or stars (in fact, this may never be within my grasp), nor can I determine what kind of soil I'm walking on or where a glacier may have passed, but I have learned to identify a variety of wildflowers and trees, birds and other fauna; sometimes, I can even distinguish among individual birds of the same species by the variations in their song as I move along.

I have enjoyed tuning in to what the natural world is trying to tell me; the result is that mankind's often-unpleasant sights and sounds recede mercifully into the background, allowing my senses to recharge.