Book Review: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

The Pulitzer-Prize winning  Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard is a written account of the author’s wonder-filled speculations of nature. It delves deeply into the seemingly small wonders all around us. With the eyes of a painter and the words of a poet Dillard marvels at the wonders of praying mantis egg cases or the flight patterns of a Monarch butterfly through her backyard. Her keen eye and impossible patience pays off when watching the natural world. She learns to stalk muskrats, watches as a mosquito sucks the blood of a copperhead, and observes mantises hatching in her garden. She notes the magical moments we often miss in our busy lives and recounts them with such detail we feel as if we have lived through the moment ourselves.

She admires nature in all its beauty, and her poetic writing style paints a picture for the reader: “One day [...] I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell burning with flame. I stood on the grass with lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed.”

Dillard does not shy away from the horrors found in nature, as she observes a giant water bug feasting on an unsuspecting frog: “He was a very small frog with wide, dull eyes. And just as I looked at him, he slowly crumpled and began to sag. The spirit vanished from his eyes as if snuffed. His skin emptied and drooped; his very skull seemed to collapse and settle like a collapsed tent. He was shrinking before my eyes like a deflating football.”

In the book Dillard writes about her intertwined beliefs in God and science, and she seems in awe of the complexities of life. Her poetic prose, while alluding to the Bible at times, also dives into the jargon of science. She exclaims at the similar makeup between chloroplasts and hemoglobin, and also speaks of the Creator’s great world, saying, “Beauty itself is the fruit of the creator’s exuberance that grew such a tangle, and the grotesque and horrors bloom from that same free growth, that intricate scramble and twine up and down the conditions of time.” Her connection between science, poetry, and spirituality creates a very inspiring read which causes the reader to question their own significance in this world.

Though it is not a fast-paced, plot-driven read A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek makes for a thought- provoking read that will hopefully inspire you to get outdoors and take a look at the endless discoveries around you.

Freshman. Field Hockey. Band. Avid Reader. Farmer. All history lessons should be taught as rap songs....**cough,cough** Hamilton**cough,cough**.

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