The Peace of Wild Things
Arachne's Handmaidens: Weaving Beauty

Reading in the woods

Woodland 1

''A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called 'leaves') imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time -- proof that humans can work magic.''

   - Carl Sagan (Cosmos)

Woodland 2

"In the ancient world -- indeed, until the dawn of the modern nation-states -- the power of reading actually did mean something like membership of a secret elite; linguistic knowledge once counted in many places as the provenance of sorcery. In Middle English the word 'glamour' developed out of the word 'grammar'. The person who could read would be thought easily capable of other impossibilities."

  - Peter Sloterdij ("The Elmauer Rede")

Woodland 3

"[But] just as unseen worlds unfold to those who read a book, so worlds hidden to hurried sight unfold to those who choose to spend more than a few moments cultivating their relationship with nature. Paying attention is the key: we interact with each other when we allow it to engage our attention, when we 'read' it with absorption, as we would read a book. [Even] the ficus tree in the office cubicle or the oak planted in the urban sidewalk offers undreamed-of wonders to those who pay attention. Just because to literate people reading a book is unremarkable, available to anyone who can learn the alphabet, it is no less magical. Among my people, children are taught to read books; among some other peoples, children are taught to read the trees." 

- Priscilla Stuckey (Kissed by a Fox, And Other Stories of Friendship in Nature)

Woodland 4

Sitting in the woods on a damp autumn day, I read stories composed of ink on paper while Tilly reads stories of sound and scent. The wind ruffles brown leaves, white pages, black fur, and tangles my yellow hair. It, too, has a story to tell us.  Listen, it says. Once upon a time...

''Reading is the means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.'' - Joyce Carol Oates

Drawing by Walter CraneDrawing by Walter Crane