Bored already by the Booker shortlist? I am. The Guardian (though no stranger to Booker coverage) has some literary relief. They asked naturalist Esther Woolfson for a personal list of “Top 10 birds in fact and fiction.” In fiction, she says, she likes “a hint of birds: a bird as subsidiary character, as metaphor or symbol.”
Number one on her list is a D.C. book–nonfiction–that I’m sorry I haven’t known about: Spring in Washington, by Louis J. Halle. Wollfson describes him as “an extraordinary man, a naturalist and a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department”–one of those quiet enthusiasts you find here.
Spring in Washington, written about the spring of 1945, is an appreciation of the minutiae of life after the end of war, what Halle describes as “snatching the passing moment and examining it for signs of eternity”…
“This again is fresh earth and fresh sky. Look up when you reach Washington’s home at Mount Vernon and, like as not, you will see one or several American eagles soaring against the blue. They do duty for bronze eagles over Washington’s tomb”….
Reading this book makes me wonder what has changed in the natural landscape of Washington, what has been lost over the 60 odd years, what has diminished.
I wonder too. I am going to buy a copy of Halle’s book and find out.