Notes from Anna: New Books About the Wild, the Good, and the Beautiful
With the holidays approaching, I set out to find new books that would make the most captivating gifts for those who care about nature, sustainable living, and ecology. Among those that came off the press in the past few months, there were three that I found irresistible, because of their eloquence, unconventional outlook, and -- in the case of my first pick -- the beauty of the edition itself that is bound to be treasured for years to come.
That book is A Cafecito Story, by Julia Alvarez (Chelsea Green, $14.95). Alvarez was raised in the Dominican Republic and became a renowned poet, essayist and fiction writer. Her new book is a poetic and passionate exploration of what goes into the making of one perfect cup of organic coffee, the challenges of sustainability, and the human dimension of coffee production. Illustrated with woodcuts by Dominican artist Belkis Ramirez, this beautiful cloth-cover edition is a perfect gift, available from the publisher's website.
The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska's Arctic Wilderness, by James Campbell (Simon & Schuster, $25), is a book that made a deep impression on me because of the magnitude of the true story that it tells. Heimo Korth, his wife, Edna, and their two teenage daughters, Rhonda and Krin, have carved what seems an impossible niche for themselves in the forbidding landscape of Arctic Alaska. Journalist James Campbell spent two years documenting their life on the frigid frontier. The result is an intimate portrait of the Korths, their courageous choice, and their perseverance.
The Open Space of Democracy, by Terry Tempest Williams (Orion Society, $8), is a triptych of essays, each of which was published previously in Orion magazine. I think these are some of the finest, most lucid essays on the ethics and politics of wild spaces, and the responsibility we share for the environment. Terry Tempest Williams has been hailed a visionary by Utne magazine for her eloquent, inspiring writing. Visit the author's website, which features more information about Williams and her work.
I was gratified to receive notes from some of you who read the first of my columns, and took the time to jot down some suggestions and comments. I appreciate all the feedback, and will share a few comments here.
Judy Willingham alerted me to a terrific open forum for jewelry makers. She wrote, "I've been involved in the Orchid forum for some time and I am continually impressed with the generosity in sharing "secrets," tips, advice, and other assistance, among the posters... In addition, there are biographies of various artists, views of studios, videos of techniques, and the list goes on."
Boston photographer Mark Ostow sent in a comment about the music of Jamie Sieber, featured last week: "I liked your article and even listened to the music. It sounds a lot like the Paul Winter Consort." Here's a link to Paul Winter's website, "World of Living Music: Celebrating the Creatures and Cultures of the Earth."
Finally, I am thankful to Patty Kirchhoff for an update about Norio Matsumoto's Alaska expedition: "Anna, Norio has begun his winter camping out on the Kahiltna Glacier by Mt. McKinley. He'll be gone for 1-2 months before returning to Talkeetna to re-stock his supplies for his next trip."
We're always looking for great web sites that explore the arts, such as music, theater, design, etc. I would love to hear from you about your favorites, and get your thoughts on how art and environment converge in your life. Please email me your questions, ideas, and suggestions for future columns: firstname.lastname@example.org.