Posted tagged ‘nature’

The Saturday Book Shop – The Snail with the Right Heart

February 13, 2021

Most book stores do not have a section labelled “Simply Enchanting”, but they ought to, and this book definitely falls into that category of undefinable magic (mixed with true science) that will no doubt make it a contemporary classic for young readers—and everyone young at heart too.

The Snail with the Right Heart: A True Story by Maria Popova with illustrations by Ping Zhu is a children’s book that holds a fascinating story with down-to-earth wisdom alongside soaring wonder of the ages within its covers. (And if you’re a book printing/design geek like me, you’ll notice that not only the stunning pages, but even the end papers of the covers are delicately and brilliantly illustrated. The tiny details of book production, along with the inner workings of tiny gliding snails zing me.) Three years in the making, the book is quite timely, especially in these times:

“A love story, a time story, an invitation not to mistake difference for defect and to welcome, across the accordion scales of time and space, diversity as nature’s wellspring of resilience and beauty.” – Maria Popova

Maria Popova’s name is familiar if you’re a reader of her fabulous BrainPickings site where she mesmerizes us all with her passionate and poetic writings about all things books, art, design, poetry, music, marvels, philosophy: LIFE.

Popova is after my own heart here when she describes so wonderfully what I have long felt about the best of children’s books:

“Great children’s books move young hearts, yes, but they also move the great common heart that beats in the chest of humanity by articulating in the language of children, which is the language of simplicity and absolute sincerity, the elemental truths of being: what it means to love, what it means to be mortal, what it means to live with our fragilities and our frissons. As such, children’s books are miniature works of philosophy, works of wonder and wonderment that bypass our ordinary resistances and our cerebral modes of understanding, entering the backdoor of consciousness with their soft, surefooted gait to remind us who and what we are.” – Maria Popova

There’s more to Popova’s behind-the-scenes about writing this gem, as well as more photos of the gorgeous inside pages of the book here.

And while we’re on the subject of snails, and because it’s the day before Valentine’s, I’ll leave you with a little poem I wrote back in 2014 about embracing the spirit of snails and all they can teach us about unexpected blessings of perspective, whether we’re in full tilt hummingbird-heartbeat doings mode or embracing the reminders of slow and steady rhythms of just being that come our way … Happy Heart Day All! ❤️❤️❤️

OF SNAILS AND TRAILS
by Paula Boyd Farrington

 

I read about Totem Animals
whose essence shows The Way
The article said if you don’t know yours,
Be aware: it will somehow speak to you; show up during your day
 
And there you were
when I went out to the car
In plain view—a darling little snail
On the rear view mirror: driver’s side
 
Oh no, I groan …
I don’t want my totem to be a SNAIL!
Sluggish. Slow. Escargot.
No, thank you. No. Just … no.
 
But there you are again
In the evening dusk
climbing outside the kitchen window,
seemingly everywhere I look.
 
Oh my. Not what I wanted to see.
Why couldn’t I have glimpsed a National Geographic Gazelle?
A Lion. A Jaguar. A Hawk. A Flamingo!
Something powerful or exotic. Oh hell.
 
But there you are.
Carrying your likeness of a gratitude symbol
upon your mandala of a spiral shell,
your home right with you, wherever you may dwell.
 
Let me look closer, your antennae sweeping out
Stretching forward, inquisitively sensing the air
I watch you quietly know where you’re going,
on your own glossy path, climbing here and there.
 
Let me rethink this tiny powerhouse of Now
to warm to What Is
seeing anew the natural grace
In everything that lives.
 
This little snail is more than cute,
It fulfills an important role
Recycles organic matter,
Strong and steady it goes and goes.
 
And your giant ocean cousin?
All pink lipped with curvy shell,
known as an aphrodisiac,
her majesty feeds the islands well.
 
Named the Queen Conch.
She sometimes sports a pearl.
A royal snail in aqua seas
Classic beauty, a crown of whorls.
 
So can I embrace this totem tale?
As a celebration of gentler slower trails?
Of gliding along smoothly through time & tide?
The heart’s humble wisdom says: oh, snail—be mine! ❤️
Paula Boyd Farrington ©2014Oh! And one last time-oriented p.s. … I had the pleasure of getting to create the art for the cover of this Exumas: The Kingdom of Blue coffee table book (and wrote a poem inside about my first flight to Exuma!). The book is filled with gorgeous photos by Alessandro Sarno, holding a reverent gaze on life in this beautiful chain of islands surrounded by some of the most stunning clear ocean waters anywhere. It’s perfect for anyone who loves The Bahamas or whose heart wants to visit. The publisher is offering a 20% discount through Valentine’s Weekend. Link to the site is here.

 

Enjoy & see you back next week at The Saturday Book Shop!

 

The Saturday Book Shop – The Lost Spells

January 30, 2021

Just one exquisite little book today: The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris.

The simple majesty of this book gently opens your heart with quietly elegant poetry, rhyme, and riveting watercolors—an artful honoring of the natural world that is truly spellbinding in its sense of wonder.

I am admittedly writing this while still in the thrall of getting to stand in the glow of the recent Full Wolf Moon. Bathing in the moonbeams of the moment is akin to the celebration of language and devoted images attentively rendered here. I adore how the pages lift the spirit to the stars while keeping your feet firmly planted in the earth’s exceptional and softly soaring beauty and magic. An excerpt from the Introduction:

” … Loss is the tune of our age, hard to miss and hard to bear. Creatures, places and words disappear, day after day, year on year. But there has always been singing in dark times—and wonder is needed now more than ever. ‘To enchant’ means both to make magic and to sing out. So let these spells ring far and wide; speak their words and seek their art, let the wild world into your eyes, your voice, your heart.”

The Lost Spells is a “little sister” to 2017’s The Lost Words — another treasure by the same author and illustrator. There’s a delightful video interview with the author here (thanks to the fabulous Waterstones in London). In the video you can glimpse some of the amazing illustrations and hear select readings by Robert Macfarlane along with his thoughts and backstory in creating these inspiring works.

Thank you for visiting The Saturday Book Shop. So wonderful to get to share enthusiasms for books here (or in the comments if you wish).

AND A REMINDER OF OTHER WONDERFUL PLACES WHERE BOOKS ARE CELEBRATED

I am especially fond of the marvelously thoughtful Brain Pickings by Maria Popova, Austin Kleon’s brilliant and eclectic weekly newsletter and blog, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s new Onward book club as sources of sharing a wide wealth of writings and books. Well worth being on their mailing lists.

That’s it for now, other than a plea to support local independent booksellers whenever you can—these intrepid entrepreneurs have made the publishing world go round for a long long time and are essential nooks of civilization and creative caffeine everywhere!

Here’s to all the writers and artists and wonder-seekers who creatively lose themselves in the zone of conjuring natural-found joy and magic through their reverent gazes.

The Saturday Book Shop – January 2, 2021

January 2, 2021

“A hymn of love to the world.”

That’s what author Elizabeth Gilbert says about the book I want to share with you today—and what a true description it is.

I am totally enthralled by Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

What a treasure this book is. The stories captivate with a blend of gentle beauty, facts, history, reverence, humor, and gratitude that are expertly and unforgettably woven together to help: “…people remember that what’s good for the land is also good for the people.”

It seems a good place to be, here in this first Saturday of 2021. A place where we’ve had more time to reflect and pause to notice the generous gifts of the earth while contemplating how we reciprocate that grace and care. This is what Robin Wall Kimmerer writes about so well, so wholeheartedly.

My beloved Bahamas is right now facing a potential threat to the pristine, abundant, and incredibly gorgeous waters that surround their 700 cays and islands. Pleas, petitions, and every know legal action and prayer are engaged today in urging that no further licenses be issued to drill oil in these irreplaceable waters. To risk an oil spill is unthinkable. The current administration did not negotiate the current drilling permits and has stated their opposition to it. Public support in The Bahamas and abroad is strong to cease the oil drilling, and it needs to be stronger yet. If you want to sign this petition to help save The Bahamas from oil drilling, please sign here. More background information on the situation is here.


… AND A REMINDER ABOUT MORE PLACES TO FIND WONDERFUL BOOKS & TERRIFIC WRITINGS ABOUT BOOKS IN THE NEW YEAR …

In my original post about the start of The Saturday Book Shop, I noted that I’m especially fond of the marvelously thoughtful Brain Pickings by Maria Popova, as well as Austin Kleon’s brilliant and eclectic weekly newsletter and blog. Elizabeth Gilbert has a new Onward book club that’s worth checking out too. All of these sources offer a wide wealth of writings and inspirations about books. Well worth being on their mailing lists.

That’s it for now, other than an ongoing plea to support local independent booksellerswhenever you can—these intrepid entrepreneurs have made the publishing world go round for a long long time and are essential nooks of civilization and creative caffeine everywhere!

What are you reading to begin this New Year? Would love to hear what’s on your nightstand table or in your book bag or e-reader if you want to share in the comments. See you next Saturday … 📚

“A book is a present you can open again and again.”

 

The Saturday Book Shop – December 26, 2020

December 26, 2020

It’s a glorious blue-sky, warm-sun and briskly BEAUTIFUL day-after-Christmas here in the warm-winter tropics of South Florida. Far too fine to be doing anything but masking up and being out enjoying all this not-too-hot, not-too-cold kinda bliss. Whether you’re reading this in the midst of a magical snowy wonderland up north or grabbing a sweater for a walk along breezy island shores, this is the sort of moment to really celebrate the complex blessings of our environment. And this book, The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild, does that so well …

In an excerpt from the flyleaf:

“In this impassioned and inspiring book, world-renowned marine ecologist Enric Sala illuminates the many reasons why preserving Earth’s biodiversity makes logical, emotional, and economic sense.

Using key moments from his own scientific awakening (and introducing us to a colorful cast of teachers and colleagues along the way), Sala reveals that out survival depends on all species. From microbes to mammals, from seaweed to sharks, every living thing plays a crucial role in our interwoven biosphere. The natural world, he explains, is a perfect circular economy, where every species, in life and in death, sustains everything else.

Sala also builds a cogent argument for the practical value of preserving our planet’s wild places, demonstrating the long-lasting economic benefits of establishing wilderness preserves on land and no-catch zones in the ocean. And, in a timely epilogue, Sala shows how saving nature can save us all, by reversingcondiqtions that led to the coronavirus pandemic and preventing other global catastrophes.”

I am enjoying his mantra for re-wilding our planet and the myriad bio habitat examples Sala provides underscoring how we truly are—all of us—in this together. It will be more important than ever in the new year to move forward with innovative ways of preserving our precious planet. Read the first chapter of the Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson if you have any doubt about that. Or watch the newly released George Clooney-directed The Midnight Sky Netflix movie for a touching and beautifully poignant tale that opens our hearts more fully to the urgency of saving the earth.

Wishing you a blessed New Year. And if you feel like chiming in here in the comments with where and what you’re reading (or looking forward to reading!), I’d love to hear it. Now back out to enjoy this gorgeous day …

 

Heartsong Haiku

August 20, 2011

simple island joys
dance brightly in lush greenness
nature’s love abloom

Florida Fandango

April 16, 2010

Because Grand Bahama Island sits a mere 68 miles off the coast of South Florida, the closeness creates a sort of fandango of back-and-forth, here-and-there-frequently two-step, where the best of both worlds is readily at hand.

The small flock of flamboyant feathered friends in this picture were gorgeous to see recently at Ft. Lauderdale’s Flamingo Gardens, and it got me thinking about the great abundance of flamingos in The Bahamas, where  the world’s largest colony of West Indian Flamingos (some 50,000 of these long-legged lovelies!) are a true Bahamas National Trust conservation success story on the southernmost island of Inagua. Protected by law, the wild flamingos of Inagua live in a beautiful symbiosis, thriving along the shallow lagoons and salt ponds created by The Morton Salt Company in their harvesting of almost a million pounds of salt each year.

Known as the national bird of The Bahamas (and sometimes locally called “fillymingos”), these brightly colored wonders take their name from the Latin word for “flame”, and are just one of the many shared tropical ties between Florida and the 700 islands and cays (pronounced “keys”) of The Bahamas.

Images of flamingos and their iconic pink plastic lawn ornaments (created in 1957) became so widespread and overused in the marketing of Florida’s development boom that some people see them as a cliched symbol of paradise. Their image has swung back and forth between the ultimate in tacky taste and retro-cool for decades now. I can’t argue with that (and I’m actually a big fan of kitsch and love seeing a flock of pink plastic for a good cause!), but I also can’t help but be amazed at the odd elegance of these exotic creatures in a more natural environment.

Flamingos became a symbol of the tropical good life in Florida at about the same time a group of concerned world citizens took steps to save actual wild flamingos from extinction. Because of their timely efforts to save the flamingos, they are now a symbol not only of the good life, but of a natural and national treasure in The Bahamas. I am encouraged to think that The Bahamas still has a chance to thoughtfully and carefully develop its many precious and unique islands, and to grow in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner, learning valuable lessons of restraint and environmental awareness from its more commercially overgrown-up cousin, Florida.

In The Bahamas, the flamingo was saved from extinction through a combination of foresight, vision, international cooperation, hard work, and dedication to preserving irreplaceable distinctive rare beauty. May this same approach (and sparks of divine design inspiration as graceful and eclectically riveting as those seen in the flamingo!) ever be present in any development of the stunning, world-enhancing, and incredibly beautiful and beloved islands of The Bahamas. Amen.


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