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By Sam Keen

Sam willing, the New York Times best-selling writer of Fire within the Belly, has spent an entire life reflecting on nature. In Sightings, a set of essays, poultry looking at types the root for observations religious and soulful, witty and clever. He describes his formative years ramblings within the silence of the Tennessee barren region as feeling particularly extra spiritualthan the difficult pews of his grandmother's church. Later in lifestyles, the presumed extinction and next rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker activates a meditation at the nature of the sacred. Blessed with moments of attractiveness and the perception to acknowledge them as such, willing interprets the marvels of nature into the language of middle and soul.

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Additional info for Sightings: Extraordinary Encounters with Ordinary Birds

Example text

Effortlessly, I slipped into a state of grace in which I felt honored by a magical being that had previously only inhabited the mythical world of my Birds of America. At the same time, I was completely at ease and had a sense that the wilderness was my true home. I have no idea how long the sighting lasted because the Indigo preexisted in my imagination and perches there to this day in my memory. What sent me forth on the quest for this particular bird? Why did the Indigo Bunting become my personal holy grail?

Her letters were lavishly illustrated. A cardinal or a goldfinch perched on a bush appeared in the place of a return address. The head of a warblerlike bird with a blue eye surrounded by a black patch occupied the middle of a page with a request. “Please tell me what this bird is. I have never seen a picture of it. This is a memory drawing, so I know it is not very accurate. ” On one of the rare typewritten letters, a pale pink flamingo, as faint as a watermark, stands on one foot. In another letter, one page has been cut and folded so that “a new type of Spoonbill discovered in the imagination of an art teacher” pops out when it is opened.

Because she was different and lovely, parents who valued propriety above vitality were suspicious of her. Why was a young, attractive, unmarried woman playing with children? Because I had visions of becoming an illustrator of bird books, I enrolled in Miss Beach’s after-school art class. My first project was to draw a cardinal sitting on a bare twig. In real time, the time in which objectively identifiable events happen, a cardinal is a frequently occurring phenom-enon, a superbird that zooms through the air like a flash of lightning and lands on the highest perch in the area.

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