A Semi-Accidental Pilgrimage

I started reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek last year after my friend Dodd called it one of the pivotal books in her life.  As I've so often commented before, I'm supremely interested in those books that change a person, so this one seemed like a great choice for me.  Unfortunately, I started reading it at the precise moment I had to read several novels to make selections for class, which left it momentarily waylaid.  For one reason or another (I have no idea why), I never returned to it, so it has languished at my bedside all these long months with no apparent care or interest from me.  The other night after finishing that Lotus thing, I didn't have the energy to pick a new one, so I went to bed and just grabbed up the Dillard as an afterthought.  And what an afterthought it has been.  I'm practically swooning over her words - the seemingly effortless way she takes in and returns to us these amazingly quiet experiences.  I know - I know - it is not effortless, that craft takes time, sweat, and discipline.  But she has so successfully let us into her head that it feels as though she is merely transcribing the literal thoughts she would have in the moment.  I am humbled not only by her skill; I am also being quieted by her careful attention, reminded that I, too, have things to see and feel and experience in this wide world.  Unfortunately, I do not have much discipline, so don't count on me for the beautiful or profound.  Like this:

This afternoon I watched a chickadee swooping and dangling high in a tulip tree.  It seemed astonishingly heated and congealed, as though a giant pair of hands had scooped a skyful of molecules and squeezed it like a snowball to produce this fireball, this feeding, flying, warm solid bit. (49)

Or this:

Then one day . . . I saw the tree with the lights in it.  I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame.  I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed.  It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. (36)

One final (although it was an early one in the reading) thought:

Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent.  You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will.  The creeks are the world with all its stimulus and beauty; I live there.  But the mountains are home. (5)

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