|Red eft, courtesy of Vermont Fish and Wildlife.|
In the past week or two I've indulged in evening walks. They are by definition very different from morning ones: The light is fading instead of brightening, the breeze quiets to a whisper, stars begin to show up in the darker segments of the sky. This week there's the arc of a waxing (growing) moon, too; when it's full, we'll start the countdown of another month left before we have to watch for early frosts. But not yet.
Still, the evenings can be chilly here on the mountain ridge. I saw a skunk hump across the road two nights ago, fur fluffed up for warmth. It crossed where I saw the porcupine last week. With this year's questions and hypotheses, I make a guess that the marshy area that lies on both sides of this stretch of road is more than a deer path (I've seen their tracks, no need to guess that part), is also -- maybe because its vegetation is low and soft -- a path for other mammals.
The chill of the evening caused one "crossing creature" to be stranded on the cold road a few evenings ago. Its bright red skin and delicate limbs fascinated me. Definitely a red eft, the juvenile stage of the Eastern spotted newt. Without enough air or land warmth, and without the ability to make its own, the creature stood still, about a quarter of the way across the road. Car alert! Hazardous crossing!
Well, of course talking to it wasn't any use. I tenderly lifted it onto my palm -- the warmth turned the eft into a lively squirming tangle of legs and tail almost immediately, and I had to hurry across the road to release it before my fingers -- so much larger than its limbs! -- would damage it. It immediately hurried into the greenery, vanishing at once. Then I finished my walk, happy to have seen something that so rarely crossed paths with me.
Jeff VanderMeer. It's a dystopian novel, set on a world or part of a world where an inventive "Company" has destroyed natural life and seeded the terrain with "biotechs" that can be very threatening and smart. The protagonist, Rachel, sets a new pattern in motion when she gives maternal attention to a bit of tech-made flesh that she takes home -- something that was clinging to the fur of a monster, and which becomes her pet, or her child ... she has "borne" it, and names it "Borne."
The powerful thread that ties the characters and their perils together in BORNE is a question: What is a person? If you love some creature, and it loves you in return, does it have personhood?
(I hasten to say the book does not appear to be indicating anything about the age of personhood for a human fetus or baby.)
Rachel, her friend Wick, and Borne become the testers of their world, determining whether compassionate survival is possible. I like the book; I'd recommend it to anyone curious and questioning and willing to suspend disbelief in what the future of Earth could be. Age 10 and up, I think. It will mean more to adults -- and to those who've read other dystopian novels -- but the tenderness and kindness embodied in VanderMeer's world, page after page, fit the book for skilled younger readers as well. I'm glad it was on that list of "7 Books to Read After ..." (see my earlier post).
Yes, this is how I feed the source of All Good Writing. By reading, exploring, and asking questions. Hope you have a few minutes to explore the rest of this writer's blog.