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Sharing the wild delicate seconds

Reading “Wild Delicate Seconds, 29 Wildlife Encounters,

“Wild Delicate Seconds: 29 wildlife encounters,” a book by Charles Finn with cover art by Claire Emery, is brief but stunning in its revelations. As Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen put it, “In the space of these twenty-nine encounters, Charles Finn invites his readers into a landscape of ‘uncountable geometries, great silences,’ a primordial terrain in which ‘hunger is the beginning of everything.’ Here, a crane’s flight is ‘the old machinery of the world lifting into the sky.’ Here we experience moments so stunning ‘there is no restarting the heart.’ Finn gives us the quality of intense seeing that transcends into insight, seeing that transforms into vision. In the encounter with ravens, he reminds us of what poets tell us: ‘Everything…shouts one thing, and one thing only: Pay Attention!’ And Charles Finn does. Indeed, he does.”

” a recent book by one-time Bitterroot resident Charles Finn, is a little like flipping through someone’s family photo album as they recount the events pictured there. Only in this case the family is all animals, twenty-nine to be exact, ranging from bears to frogs, from flying squirrels to pygmy owls.
It’s a short book full of what Finn calls “micro-essays” on animals he has encountered over the years. Almost all of the encounters are by chance, many are surprising. Only three were encounters that he planned, when he went out specifically to meet some snowy owls, sandhill cranes and golden eagles.
“Because of the unexpectedness of these meetings they held a special quality for me,” writes Finn in the preface to his book. “Always there was a timelessness, a residue of the sacred, and a lingering feeling that I was witnessing something spectacular. And I was.”
The result is a very different kind of nature book. In an effort to keep true to the surprising and fleeting nature of most of the encounters, Finn chose to keep his recounting brief. He does not include any background material about the animals. He leaves out information about the location, the natural history of the animal and even his own history of meeting other animals of its kind.
“In this way only the most important details survive,” he said, “those few shimmering moments I spent lost to the world, alive in the company of these ‘other nations’, as Henry Beston describes them, the wild, feathered, and furred creatures we share this planet with.”
There are no maulings or fantastic escapes in Finn’s narratives, only stillness and attentiveness to beauty. With profundity, humor, and compassion, Finn pays homage to the creatures we share our world with, the black bears, bumble bees, mountain lions and muskrats – and, in doing so, touches on what it means to be human.
Finn is editor of High Desert Journal. His writing has appeared in more than fifty newspapers, journals, magazines, and anthologies, including The Sun, Open Spaces, Northern Lights, Big Sky Journal and High Country News. Before joining the journal, Charles taught English as a foreign language for three years in Hiroshima, Japan, hid out in the woods of British Columbia, Canada for ten, living in a 8 x 12 cabin of his own making with no running water or electricity, and spent five years in Montana where, as a self-taught woodworker and proponent of “living little” he began building “microhomes,” one-room wood cabins constructed entirely out of reclaimed lumber and materials he salvaged from taking down old barns and buildings. Originally from Vermont he moved from Stevensville to Bend, Oregon in 2008, but has recently relocated to Elizabeth, New Jersey where he lives with his wife, Joyce Mphande, and their two cats, Pushkin and Lutsa.
Finn will be reading and signing copies of his book at Chapter One Book Store in Hamilton on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and at Fact & Fiction in Missoula on Tuesday, May 8 at 7 p.m.

2 Responses to Sharing the wild delicate seconds
  1. Marguerite Ciofani
    May 7, 2012 | 6:33 pm

    I just discovered this book description as I was checking out the newspaper for the “flavor” of the city! Seems like an intelligent person respectful of the environment and life– appreciating and loving animals and plant life is such a beautiful testimony to his soul and to those who also appreciate this. I was contemplating relocating– but it is only a 1 in 1000 chance as of now. Nevertheless, I am left with such a strong, good impression of people who have the patience and soul for appreciating life! Blessings to this town- and this author who evidently now resides in another state.

  2. Deb Borsos
    May 3, 2012 | 3:41 pm

    Hey Finn, great to see you are continuing to use your enormous talent to capture some of nature’s moments. Congratulations from the woods of British Columbia.. :)

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