Archive for February, 2019

Feb 25 2019

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Owl Fest at the VINS Nature Center

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Although freezing rain made us hesitate, Judy and I drove down to the VINS Nature Center in Quechee, Vermont yesterday to attend the Owl Fest. Since Judy relates to the spirit of owls in general, it seemed like the thing to do. Besides, we were both suffering from cabin fever – a late-winter affliction common among those of us who live this far north.

The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) does a great job educating both children and adults alike about the wonder and beauty of the natural world. They also maintain a Raptor Center where nearly twenty eagles, hawks, owls and other birds of prey are kept on year-round display in somewhat roomy, outdoor enclosures. It’s worth visiting any time, but on this particular weekend the Owl Fest was on, with plenty of activities for kids and several owls perched on the thick leather gloves of their handlers for viewing up close and personal.

We marveled at how well the screech owl blended into the background when the bark of a tree was put behind it, and how small it is along with the saw-whet owl. A barred owl was on display, of course – a common sight the Vermont woods. I’ve seen it more often then all the other owls put together, anyhow. Judy had her picture taken with Frederick, a Eurasian eagle-owl that’s related to our native great horned owl but runs much bigger. I got the attention of a snowy owl comfortably sitting on the ground in its enclosure and tried to psyche him out, but he was unruffled by my antics. All the same, it was great seeing a snowy owl in the flesh. I’ve never seen one in the wild. What a beautiful creature!

Despite being pummeled for hours by freezing rain and catching a chill, Judy and I both agree the trip was worth it. I think I’ll be better at spotting owls and other raptors in the wild as a consequence. And we’ll certainly be going back to the VINS Nature Center during the warmer months. I highly recommend a visit. Go to the VINS website to learn more.

 

 

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Feb 12 2019

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New Book Release: Camping in the Galaxy

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I am pleased to announce the release of Helen Ruggieri’s collection of haibun and nature essays, Camping in the Galaxy. Helen and I have been working on this book since last fall, getting it just right. Without a doubt this is one of the best books ever published by my small press, Wood Thrush Books. And it feels good adding a new name to an imprint so cluttered with my own publications.

A couple years ago, I published several of Helen’s haibun in a Wood Thrush Books anthology of nature writing. Before she submitted that work to me, I didn’t even know what haibun was. But I immediately became a big fan of it – of hers in particular.

Haibun is a literary form that combines a short, dense piece of prose or a prose poem with haiku. It was popularized by the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho in the 17th century. Helen is an award-winning, internationally published haiku poet. But, if you ask me, haibun is what she does best.

Along with haibun, there are a dozen essays and other short prose pieces in this collection that celebrate the natural world while creating a strong sense of place. Helen writes with grace and clarity about the Allegheny bioregion of Western New York, both past and present, as well as her upbringing in Pennsylvania coal country. She also writes about the joy that the landscape elicits when we behold it, the plight of Native Americans and early white settlers alike, Japanese gardens and her own green endeavors, the folklore surrounding Groundhog Day, the charm of old maple trees, and even the mess we often make of the natural world. Helen’s words follow her passions, and her passions are diverse.

Camping in the Galaxy is available now at both Amazon.com and the Wood Thrush Books website. Check it out. There’s something in this collection for nearly everyone who loves both the landscape and the literary arts.

 

 

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