Monday, May 20, 2013
One other book disputed the claim of the Bible to people the woods—The Pilgrim's Progress. On Sundays it was a rule that secular books were barred, but we children did not find the embargo much of a penance, for we discovered a fruity line in missionary adventure, we wallowed in martyrologies, we had The Bible in Spain, and above all we had Bunyan. From The Holy War I acquired my first interest in military operations, which cannot have been the intention of the author, while The Pilgrim's Progress became my constant companion. Even to-day I think that, if the text were lost, I could restore most of it from memory. My delight in it came partly from the rhythms of its prose, which, save in King James's Bible, have not been equalled in our literature; there are passages, such as the death of Mr Valiant-for-Truth, which all my life have made music in my ear. But its spell was largely due to its plain narrative, its picture of life as a pilgrimage over hill and dale, where surprising adventures lurked by the wayside, a hard road with now and then long views to cheer the traveller and a great brightness at the end of it. John Bunyan claimed our woods as his own. There was the Wicket-gate at the back of the colliery, where one entered them; the Hill Difficulty—more than one; the Slough of Despond—various specimens; the Plain called Ease; Doubting Castle—a disused gravel-pit; the Enchanted Land—a bog full of orchises; the Land of Beulah—a pleasant grassy place where tinkers made their fires. There was no River at the end, which was fortunate perhaps, for otherwise my brothers and I might have been drowned in trying to ford it.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
As child I must have differed in other things besides sanctity from the good Bernard of Clairvaux, who, we are told, could walk all day by the Lake of Geneva and never see the lake. My earliest recollections are not of myself, but of my environment. It is only reflection that fits my small presence into the picture.
Text: John Buchan, Memory Hold-The-Door (1940)
Photographs by Laura Gilpin:
Upper: Long Prayer at the Night Way Ceremony (1952)
Lower: Petroglyph on Rock Face, Navajo Dam Area (1959)
Saturday, May 18, 2013
763. Do the precocial young of water birds have to be taught to swim? Swimming with these birds is an instinctive act. A young black guillemot that has hatched under rocks in a place where it is impossible to see the ocean will, when the time comes, scramble over and in between the rocks and enter the pounding surf without fear, swimming and diving with superb skill.
Text: 1001 Questions Answered About Birds by Allan D. Cruickshank and Helen G. Cruickshank (Toronto, General Publishing Company, 1958).