Thursday, August 02, 2007

Knowledge and love

By the kindness of the author or the publisher, Robert Michael Pyle's new book, Sky Time in Gray's River, has showed up on my doorstep in Ireland. Bob is one of the most genuine guys I've ever met, and a wonderful columnist for Orion Magazine. Any book of his is welcome. This one takes us though the change of season's at Bob's home in Gray's River, Washington. I see that the book is blurbed by another of my favorite writers, Brian Doyle of Portland. What is it about the Northwestern U. S. that produces (or attracts to itself) so many fine nature writers?

Bob says of his place and what happens there: "None of this is high adventure, but it meets my hope for a home where boredom remains at bay." And that, it seems to me is what it's all about --keeping one's self engaged in the elements and the rhythms of a place. As I wrote in the introduction to The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe: "Any path can become the Path if attended to with care, without preconceptions, informed by knowledge, and open to surprise." These are qualities that Bob Pyle possesses in spades.

Bob is not only a writer. He is also a lepidopterist who knows as much about butterflies as anyone else on the planet. He wrote a lovely book called Chasing Monarchs, which recounted a jaunty journey with his dog across the American West, following western monarchs on their annual migration. I once met up with Bob in the mountains of central Mexico, where all of the eastern monarchs had gathered to spend the winter -- millions of them. What a gift it was to be in the company of one who brings knowledge and love, science and poetry, so seamlessly together. "Put on your jumping shoes," said the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart, "which are intellect and love." Bob jumps.