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Wolves and Honey: A Hidden History of the Natural Worldby Susan Brind Morrow
Synopses & Reviews
Susan Brind Morrow brings her singular sensibility as a classicist and linguist to this strikingly original reflection on the fine but resilient threads that bind humans to the natural world. Anchored in the emblematic experiences of a trapper and a beekeeper, Wolves and Honey explores the implications of their very different relationships to the natural world, while illuminating Morrows own poignant experience of the lives and tragic deaths of these men who deeply influenced her.
Ultimately for Morrow these two — the tracker and trapper of wolves, the keeper of bees — are a touchstone for a memoir of the land itself, the rich soil of the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York. From the ancient myth of the Tree of Life to the mysterious reappearance of wolves in the New York wilderness, from the inner life of the word nectar,” whose Greek root (that which overcomes death”) reveals our most fundamental experience of wonder, to the surprising links between the physics of light and the chemistry of sweetness, Morrows richly evocative writing traces startling historical, scientific, and metaphorical resonances.
Wolves and Honey, attuned to the connections among various realms of culture and nature, time and language, jolts us into thinking anew about our sometimes neglected but always profound relationship to the natural world.
"In this lyrical memoir, Morrow (The Names of Things) muses on New York State's Finger Lake region, where she grew up. Her ruminations are loosely based on her memories of two men — one a trapper, the other a beekeeper — whose ability to connect with nature had a profound influence on the way she views the world. In a poetic narrative, she contemplates the natural history of the area and tells of the people who have inhabited it — the Seneca, spiritualists, fur traders, artists, scholars, scientists and nurserymen. Morrow goes beyond the obvious, allowing each observation to remind her of something else and searching for the inner meaning of words. The sight of a flock of crows, for example, reminds her of a poem by the Greek poet Pindar, and this leads to a meditation on what it means to be a poet. The apple tree, which grows so plentifully in the region, is a 'talisman that one could follow through the layers of Finger Lake soil, through layers of memory and history,' and this prompts thoughts on the Swedenborgian missionary John Chapman (known as Johnny Appleseed), spiritualism, the molecular structure of sweetness, Lucretius and the origin of apples in the mountains of Kazakhstan. Morrow's language is rich and sensuous, for she thinks like a poet. Agent, Tina Bennett. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
One seeks for words worthy of the authenticity and intimacy of this beautiful book. It is a treasury of perceptions, tender and unsparing, of our planetary existence; a sensual affinity with all that grows, flourishes, and dies--conveyed in a clear voice unlike any other." — Shirley Hazzard
An arresting reflection on the human relationship with nature, Wolves and Honey is grounded in the exploration of two eccentric personalities — one a trapper, the other a beekeeper — and their very different attitudes toward the world. While illuminating her own poignant relationships with these men who deeply influenced her, Susan Brind Morrow offers a meditation on the land itself — specifically, the rich and storied Finger Lakes region of New York. Keenly attuned to unexpected scientific, historical, and metaphorical connections, Morrow's writing provides a strikingly original perspective on the fine but resilient threads that bind us all to the natural world.
"Beautifully crafted prose . . . trac[es] the rich histories of two men — one a beekeeper, the other a trapper . . . One of those rare nature books that mixes a perfect combination of personal insight and historical depth." — USA Today
"A riveting compendium of observations from a very curious, very interesting mind . . . Morrow manages paragraphs as poets manage line breaks." — Boston Globe
"A meditation on the outdoors that evokes 'the smell of damp earth, the sweetness of maples and pines . . . as though it were freedom itself.'" — The New Yorker
"So venerably beautiful it makes your teeth ache." — Kirkus Reviews
Susan Brind Morrow is the author of The Names of Things.
About the Author
SUSAN BRIND MORROW is the author of The Names of Things. A classicist, linguist, and translator of ancient Egyptian as well as contemporary Arabic poetry, she lives in Chatham, New York.
Table of Contents
1. The Wood Duck 1 2. The Tree of Light 10 3. Hector 21 4. Gary 44 5. An Atmosphere of Sweetness 63 6. Bees 85 7. The Silver Forest 108
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