Brushes with Nature's Wisdom
Author: Trudy Dittmar
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
"[Fauna and Flora, Earth and Sky] is, in fact, the most intelligent, thoughtful, original, challenging, and highly entertaining work of nature writing since Barry Lopez's Artic Dreams. . . . It is her broad scope of contemplation, combined with her fiercely beautiful and detailed renderings of passion, natural and human, that give Trudy Dittmar's first but fully mature book its remarkable originality and considerable power." --Robert Finch,Los Angeles Times Book Review "Honest self-scrutiny is irresistible, especially when told with a knack for diction of place, as this author demonstrates on every page. She is both of the landscape and an informed observer of it, willing to examine her conflicts between the experiences that play in her imagination and the scientific knowledge she's gleaned through training and reading." --The Bloomsbury Review "Trudy Dittmar is an elegant stylist and an acute observer. She's read everything there is to read about the physics of rainbows, the habits of the porcupine, the winter survival skills of the moose and the orbits of the planets, but even her learning is outdistanced by her patient powers of looking, smelling, hearing, touching and tasting. Her originality arises out of this patience. And, magically, she is able to read into and out of the rich, endangered natural world an Emersonian understanding of self. This is at once the most objective and subjective book I have ever read." --Edmund White, author of A Boy's Own Story "Dittmar writes about life with the precision of a scientist and the introspective lyricism of a poet, illuminating for us those parts of the world we barely remember to notice...from the complex emotional lives of cows and pronghorns to the dazzling leaves of a silver maple to the teeming hidden pools of bright salamanders. Reading this book is like finding a geode in a stream bed--crack it open and it sparkleso--Jo Ann Beard "Dittmar, who won a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer' Award in 2000 and whose writings have appeared in numerous publications . . . provides a fascinating look at natural and personal history in these ten essays on animals, plants, and other natural phenomena. . . . An excellent choice for both public and academic libraries." --Library Journal In essays with settings that range from the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, to the mountain town of Leadville, Colorado, to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, Trudy Dittmar weaves personal experience with diverse threads of subject matter to create unexpected connections between human nature and nature at large. Life stories, elegantly combined with mindful observations of animals, plants, landscape and the skies, theories in natural science, environmental considerations, and touches of art criticism and popular culture, offer insights into the linked analogies of nature and soul. A glacial pond teeming with salamanders in arrested development is cause for reflection on the limits of a life that knows only bounty. The hot blue lights of celestial phenomena are a metaphor for fast, flashy men--he loves of a life--and a romantic career is interpreted. Watching a pronghorn buck battling for, and ultimately losing, his harem leads to a meditation on a kind of immortality. Fauna and Flora, Earth and Sky is testimony to the bearing and consequence of nature in one life, and to the richness of understanding it can bring to all human lives. Trudy Dittmar was born and raised in New Jersey farm country. In addition to holding an MA in English literature from the University of Chicago, she is a graduate of Columbia University's MFA program in writing and the founder and former director of a writing program at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey. Her work has appeared in such publications as The Norton Book of Nature Writing, Pushcart XXI, Georgia Review, and Orion. She divides her time between her family home in New Jersey and her cabin in Wyoming.