By Susan Hanson
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Extra info for Icons of Loss and Grace: Moments from the Natural World
So who’s to know, then, if the pillbugs on my porch in June are not the ones I swept off last July? Or if those that last week feasted on the remnants of a possum on the backyard path were not, two years before, digesting lettuce in my compost bin? Small world, I am tempted to say. But instead I merely brush them out of the way, letting them get on with their business, letting them get on with the task of recycling the world. Seeing the World Up Close of my tires on the hot asphalt and the light breeze rustling through the corn, I think of my friend who has recently moved to Nevada.
Like this, I imagine, walking down the trail, past grapevines and winecups and huisache blooming in the sun. Just like this attentiveness, this pleasure, this being present to the world. Where It All Begins ’ is full of birds. First a cardinal, blazing red even in the dim light of the morning, then a troop of sparrows. One after another they hop in, disappear in a blur of water, then spring up to the nearest branch to sun themselves and tweak every feather into place. This is where it begins.
This is a land, too, of scissortails sitting on fences, of mourning doves flushed from the road, of solitary larks. Would I have seen these riches from my car? Perhaps. But as John Daniel admits in “The Impoverishment of Sightseeing,” the experience just isn’t the same. Recalling a trip to Yosemite, the first he had taken in years, Daniel describes the feelings he had while touring the park in a bus. “We thought the bus would give us many good views, and it did,” he writes. ” The reason? ” How can I best know the earth?