Monday, March 20, 2006

BOOKS: Future of Ice

Future of Ice
The Future of Ice
by Gretel Ehrlich
New York: Vintage, 2005
[18/03/2006 ~ 20/03/2006]

Gretel Ehrlich is a poet, nature writer, as well as a practicing Buddhist of many years. I first came across her essay on the spirituality of mountain and ice in an issue of Shambhala Sun.

From that article, I took down this quote:
"A broken heart is an open heart."

Something about this terse statement resonant with me. Later I found out she survived a cardiac arrest induced by a lightning strike. Yes, this woman was struck by lightning - twice - and lives to write a book about it.

Her writing is lyricism and contemplation. It reminds me of Annie Dillard and Mary Oliver. My growing respect for nature writing comes from writers like Ehrlich, Dillard and Oliver, who have shown me the spiritual inhabiting the physical space.

When Erhlich received a phonecall from her publisher, asking if she is willing to write a book about "winter and climate change, and what would happen if we became 'deseasoned,' if winter disappeared as a result of global warming." She said she would think about it.

The result is Future of Ice, which came out of Gretel Ehrlich's devotion to nature - the cold places, the high places - and the living things in-between. It is a mediation on weather, geography and consciousness, "what the Tibetans call a mixing of mind and space."

"Too few of us remember how to be heartbroken. Or why we should be. We don't look, because heartbreak might imply failure. But the opposite is true. A broken heart is an open heart, like a flower unfolding from its calyx, the one nourishing the other."

I have too many books still unread - but when I saw it in the library last night, I could not pass it up.

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