Coyote Soul, Raven Heart: Meditations Of A Hunter Wanderer – Reg Darling [Book Review]

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Coyote Soul, Raven Heart: Meditations Of A Hunter Wanderer stands easily in the company of other Nature Philosophical works as Ogburn’s ‘The Winter Beach’, Beston’s Outermost House, and yes even ‘Walden’ by Thoreau.

Like these other books; the subject and content of ‘Coyote Soul, Raven Heart’ is not easily distilled into a few words, Reg’s book is both about the experiences of hunting in the wilds of northwestern Pennsylvania, and contemplation of a persons place in the larger world. It deals with the small experiences and choices in life, and also embraces the larger issues of purpose, and hope, and despair, all the while not losing sight of the natural world tying all these things together.

It is a verbal salve on the soul; where the decision not to use a firearm for hunting represents more than just a choice of tools to take a trophy; but rather a philosophy of life.

There is no traditional narrative, but rather bits and pieces that at first seem random and scattered like so many leaves, but pick through them; and see the path obscured underneath, and they link together and form an understanding of nature; and of mystery.

This book is about the technique and skill of Traditional Bowhunting as much as ‘Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance’ is about degreasing a carburetor, but as ‘Zen’ may make you cross the country on motorcycle, so does ‘Coyote Soul, Raven Heart’ make you yearn to throw off your polyester gym shorts, and don buckskin and take bow in hand to commune with the streams and stones.

The Outermost House -Henry Beston [Book Review]

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I am surprised that I was unaware of this book for so many years. This book is considered one of the quintessential pieces of nature writing. Though the natural world is a great passion of mine, and in retrospect- some of the books I own reference The Outermost House, I had never picked up a copy until a week ago. The subject is unassuming, and simple: A year spent on the great beach of Cape Cod.

The author indeed did not set out to write a book, but merely wanted to take a short two week vacation in his newly constructed beach house. This turned into a solitary adventure that would forever mark his literary career. Henry Beston has a way of wording a sentence that leaves it marked in the mind long after the book is closed.

His descriptions are not laboriously detailed, even sparse at times, but he artfully gives exactly he information needed to render the scene on the imagination. It was a pleasant book to read, and though written in the mid 1920s, the English was not archaic or dated. I finished it in a little over 2 days of sparse reading.

Only Beston could write an entire chapter just about the sound of the surf on the sand, and not come off as strained. I could almost hear it for myself. This is a true classic and ‘The Outermost House’ should be on the ‘read next’ list for anyone who loves nature and the feel of the sand between the toes.