Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November, my thankful list (con't)

Every once in awhile I get the feeling that I'm being too damn cantankerous about those who would rape and pillage what's left of our natural heritage. That's when I drag out a copy of some of Edward Abbey's writings to see what real cantankerousness is. I'm thankful that Abbey was with us, even if for too short a time, that he cared as much a he did about the country in which he lived, and that he wrote as well as this:
"Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you --- beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."

Edward Abbey

from the chapter Terra Incognita: Into the Maze in his book Desert Solitaire
St. Croix River emerging from mystery
St. Croix River emerging from its mystery
Photo by J. Harrington

I'm also thankful that Abbey provides aspirational goals like the paragraph above as an inspiration for my own writing efforts. My turnings tend to come not in canyon walls but from river bends and curves in two track trails. Most of my swamps are "miasmal and mysterious," and I'm still looking for my poets tower. If you haven't already, check out Abbey and his writing. They were anything but flat.

Flat: Sentences from the Prefaces of Fourteen Science Books

By Bruce Covey 
1.  Mary-Frances applied continual pressure on me to start
      the job and helped in recording and editing.
2.  Thanks to Sandra for her heroic typing, although this
      need not be taken to indicate her agreement with
      various points.
3.  Peter provided information about the notorious
      perpetual pills.
4.  As someone who gloried in seeing dogma overturned,
     he would have delighted in the irony of seeing
     arguments for the reverse.
5.  And without their willingness to take on the chore of
     responding to our whims and fancies over a 3-year
     period, this book would have fallen short of its goals.
6.  The production of this tome would have been
     unthinkable without the marvelous electronic tools that
     are now widely available.
7.  However, Chapter 7 was written in a relatively self-
     contained fashion, so the serious student may skip
     Chapter 6 and delve directly into the theory.
8. The late abbess of Shasta Abbey proved that looking
     through different windows into the same room is not a
     metaphor.
9.  Nick, who is writing a book on oxygen, gave much 
     appreciated data concerning that element.
10. The filmstrip format employed in Chapter 10 originated
       with Elizabeth.
11.  I have been very fortunate in being able to use such
        penetrating minds.
12.  In recent months, I have often felt like a small child in a
       sweet shop as astronomers all round the world have sent
       me the most mouthwatering new data.
13.  Suffice it at this point to observe that I am not just talking 
       about wallpaper patterns on shirts and dresses, although
       many of these patterns do turn out to have interesting 
       properties.
14.  I do not expect that many readers will want to be 
       masochistic enough to want to read the book in order 
       from cover to cover.


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