WEEKEND: Nature writer to share stories at Port Angeles Library

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — When asked how he deals with the blues, here’s how Robert Michael Pyle, author of 17 books about bugs, slugs and Bigfoot’s woods, responds.

“If I do get to feeling stale, sleepy or unhooked from what I am writing, I go outdoors. A walk along Gray’s River, or even through our own small woods to the brook and back, is guaranteed to pep me up and remind me why I do this,” Pyle said in an interview this week.

In the final Port Book and News presentation until next March, Pyle will give a reading of his latest essay collection, The Tangled Bank: Writings from Orion.

The event is tonight at7 p.m. in the Raymond Carver Room at the Port Angeles Library 2210 S. Peabody St.

Admission is free.

52 short pieces

Tangled contains 52 short pieces, from “Leaves that Speak” to “The Toucans of Tikal” to “The Moth Blitz” to “Pele and Kamehameha Dance.”

Pyle, who moves through the natural world like a trout through a pool, offers his reflections on each experience.

The essays first ran in Orion magazine, while the title comes from The Origin of Species, in which Charles Darwin wrote, “It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing . . . insects flitting about . . . worms crawling through the damp earth.”

Pyle is a road-tripper — he’s followed monarch butterflies across the continent — but he revels in the rich soil of home, too.

He lives in Gray’s River in southwesternmost Washington now but has plenty of experience with the North Olympic Peninsula.

Research, readings

He’s done butterfly research on Hurricane Ridge, taught at the Olympic Park Institute on Lake Crescent and given many readings in Port Angeles.

He hails Port Book and News owners Alan and Cindy Turner for hosting literary readings throughout the year; they’re “the envy of many larger, big-city stores.”

Pyle and his wife, Thea, “never fail to have a memorable time in Port Angeles, and I’m always eager to see who comes out for the reading.

“It is not so terribly far to come; whether via the coastal road or Hood Canal, it is a beautiful day’s journey,” Pyle added.

“We can pick up some fresh oysters along the way and maybe spot the sea otters at Kalaloch.”

With the Tangled Bank essay “Of Mice and Monarchs,” Pyle writes: “When people ask me how one becomes a naturalist, I say that being open to what’s out there is at least as important as knowing what is out there.”

He added to this in the interview, saying that he doesn’t separate people from the rest of nature.

“To do so is a very dangerous notion, for it gives our species license to treat all the rest as ‘the other,’ and that doesn’t usually work out too well.

“It is our co-evolution with everything else that really grabs me most and how we might or might not adapt to get along in this beautiful, volatile world.”

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Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 20. 2012 5:22PM
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