26th October 2020: Snakes, Sunrises, and Shakespeare: How Evolution Shapes Our Loves and Fears by Gordon Orians (2014) In this ambitious and unusual work, evolutionary biologist Gordon H. Orians explores the role of evolution in human responses to the environment, beginning with why we have emotions and ending with evolutionary approaches to aesthetics. Orians reveals how our emotional lives today are shaped by decisions our ancestors made centuries ago on African savannas as they selected places to live, sought food and safety, and socialized in small hunter-gatherer groups. Discussion leader: Nan Evans
16th November 2020: Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild by Craig Childs (2009)
The Animal Dialogues tells of Craig Childs’ own chilling experiences among the grizzlies of the Arctic, sharks off the coast of British Columbia and in the turquoise waters of Central America, jaguars in the bush of northern Mexico, mountain lions, elk, Bighorn Sheep, and others. More than chilling, however, these stories are lyrical, enchanting, and reach beyond what one commonly assumes an “animal story” is or should be. The Animal Dialogues is a book about another world that exists alongside our own, an entire realm of languages and interactions that humans rarely get the chance to witness. Discussion leader: Jean Mann
14th December 2020: The Restless Northwest: A Geological Story by Hill Williams (2002) An overview of the geological history of the Pacific Northwest, written by a former science writer for the Seattle Tims, in a manner that explains scientific facts to the lay person. Includes explanations of the subduction phenomenon, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanos.
25th January 2021: The Overstory by Richard Powers (2019) From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe. Discussion leader: Dave Rugh
22nd February 2021: Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural World by Kelly Brenner (2020) Through explorations of a rich and varied landscape, Brenner reveals the complex micro-habitats and surprising nature found in the middle of a city. In her hometown of Seattle, which has plowed down hills, cut through the land to connect fresh- and saltwater, and paved over much of the rest, she exposes a diverse range of strange and unknown creatures, many of which can be found throughout the Pacific Northwest. From shore to wetland, forest to neighborhood park, and graveyard to backyard, Brenner uncovers how our alterations of the land have affected nature, for good and bad, through the often unseen wildlife and plants that live alongside us. These stories meld together, forming an eloquent tapestry, in the same way that ecosystems, species, and humans are interconnected across the urban environment. Discussion leader: Oma Landstra
22nd March 2021: Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction by David Quammen (1997)
Interweaving personal observation, scientific theory, and history, The Song of the Dodo, examines the mysteries of evolution and extinction as they have been illuminated by the study of islands. An unforgettable scientific adventure, a fascinating account of an eight-year journey of discovery, and a wake up call for out time, this is a beautifully written book that takes the reader on a globe-circling tour of wild places and extraordinary ideas. “A masterpiece, maybe the masterpiece of science journalism.” -Bill McKibben, Audubon Magazine
26th April 2021 (In honor of International Poetry Month): Passings by Holly Hughes (2019) Passenger pigeon. Carolina parakeet. Eskimo curlew. In this timely collection of elegies, award-winning poet Holly J. Hughes gives voice to these and other bird species that no longer fill our skies. If their names sound a litany of the hundreds of species we’ve lost, these fifteen poems serve as a reminder that their stories are still with us, offering a cautionary tale for the many species whose habitats face threats from climate change. In her afterword, Hughes reminds us that it’s not too late to learn from these birds’ extinction and take action to protect the species that remain. “Take note,” she writes. “These birds are still singing to us. We must listen.” Discussion leader: Holly Hughes
All meetings will be via Zoom from 3:30-5:00 pm until the public health protocols change. Please contact Kathy Darrow at email@example.com for details if you would like to join in.
We hope to meet in person again at Illahee Preserve as soon as it is deemed safe to practice social distancing and enjoy being outdoors together. During colder winter months, we’ll meet at the Pink House next to PT Library, or schedule a Zoom meeting, depending on the public health situation.