Saturday, March 31, 2012

In "Companions in Wonder," Rick Bass writes about how fireflies can illuminate "a newness in the world"

What I'm noticing this morning: tiny clover growing at the root of my awakening strawberry plants.
I have been reading my way through the new anthology, “Companions in Wonder: Children and Adults Exploring Nature Together.” I have a short piece in it about rock climbing with my young son.

Last night read a beautiful piece by Rick Bass, “The Farm.” It is spring and he and his family are visiting Rick’s father’s Texas “brush country” farmhouse near Austin. His mom lived here for a time, but died too young. Now it’s a place for the Bass family on a spring hiatus from Montana’s snowbound Yaak Valley.

As always, Rick is lyrical in his descriptions of people in nature. He delights in his daughters’ first encounter with fireflies. “I am not sure they had even known such creatures existed.” Not many fireflies up there on the Yaak. The girls, ages 3 and 6, are bedazzled by them. The family manages to snare one and put it in a jar. Rick remembers catching whole squadrons of them as a kid.

I remember the same thing while growing up in southeastern Kansas lightning bug territory. Not all that distant from Austin. The fireflies lit up those muggy summer evenings. I remember my brother and sister and I chasing them amongst the backyard swing set which backed up against dense undergrowth. We didn’t stop until the jars were filled with bugs and grass. We came inside, punched air holes in the lids, and marveled at our catch.  
The Bass family repeats this “time-honored ritual.”

Writes Rick: “That simple, phenomenal, marvelous miracle – so easy to behold – as old familiar things left us, replaced by a newness in the world. The heck with electricity, or flashlights. Yes. This is the world my daughters deserve. This is the right world for them.”

We see the world anew through children’s eyes. That’s an old saying, isn’t it? It’s one thing to say it and other to illustrate it with stories from personal lives, told well. That’s what this book is about. It will help you as an adult take another wonder-filled look at nature. And that’s what I’m planning to do today – take another look at my rejuvenating strawberry plants and a crocus rising from winter and the buds on my maple and the deep blue sky.    

To order “Companions in Wonder,” go here. It’s a $21.95 trade paperback. ISBN-10: 0-262-51690-X; ISBN-13: 978-0-262-51690-7  

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