Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

I just finished re-reading one of my (many) favorite books A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson. It is categorized as travel, but it could also be classified as humor, memoir, history, and ecology. It is the retelling of Bryson's experience walking the Appalachian Trail with his comical buddy Stephen Katz, mixed with interesting history about the AT and information about ecology in the United States.

Some of the history Bryson shared broke my heart: "...the Park Service in 1957 decided to 'reclaim' Abrams Creek...for the rainbow trout, even though rainbow trout had never been native to Abrams Creek. To that end, biologists dumped several drums of poison called rotenone into fifteen miles of creek. Within hours, tens of thousands of dead fish were floating to the surface like autumn leaves." His lore about the environment of the AT amazed me: "The true creature of the Smokies, however, is the reclusive and little-appreciated salamander There are twenty-five varieties of salamander in the Smokies, more than anywhere else on earth....Most salamanders are tiny, only an inch or two long, but the rare and startlingly ugly hellbender salamander can attain lengths of over two feet." And his wit made me laugh out loud: "Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old." It is an informative and enjoyable read.

A Walk in the Woods is the book this year for Allegheny County's One Book One Community. One Book aims to promote literacy, share ideas, and foster understanding and tolerance through reading. Each year there are community-wide discussions and events relating to the book.

Even if you don't want to participate in One Book events (or if you don't live in the Pittsburgh-area), read the book! I think it is best enjoyed outside in the quiet of nature.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I am a library assistant on the children's floor of my local library, and all of the children's literature I've been reading has started to shape the way I view things. After reading news stories about two different animals I thought, opposites! If there are opposites in the animal kingdom, Einstein, the world's smallest horse, and the giant Echizen jellyfish are it. 

Einstein weighs six pounds. The Echizen jellyfish weighs up to 660 pounds. Einstein is fuzzy and lives in New Hampshire. The Echizen is decidedly not fuzzy and lives off the coast of Japan. Einstein makes envokes "awws" in small children. The Echizen evokes fear in ships' captains. Mammal, invertebrate. Land, water.

They are two incredibly different creatures, but both amaze me. How can a horse be that small? And a jellyfish that big? Einstein is meek, delicate, and still a vulnerable baby. The Echizen is giant, powerful, and deadly. I can't help but see God in both animals. Animals have always awed me -- the cute ones and the less cuddly ones. That God created so many different creatures... it just overwhelms me. This may not be the best thing for someone who just started a blog, but sometimes it leaves me speechless.

Diving In

I decided that I want to start writing for pleasure again, but my journal just isn't enticing me. So, I'm diving in to the blogging world. I'm interested to see where this takes me!