"Odysseus in the Cave of Polyphemus" by Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678). Charles Darwin is fascinating to read, from many viewpoints. There is, of course, the obvious one—the scientific one. He is a keen observer. We marvel at the meticulous details he records about botany, geology, marine biology, and zoology, for instance. It’s impossible, though, not to … Continue reading With Darwin’s Eyes and Ears
Shadows. Moonlit Night. Isaac Levitan. Original Title: Тени. Лунная ночь. Date: c.1885 In The Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin writes about a “Sacred Tree.” He came upon it while traveling in the valley of the Rio Negro on his way to Bahía Blanca in Argentina in the company of an Englishman, a guide, and … Continue reading Between Hope and Fear
Pedro Figari - El gaucho Candioti. In his essay, “Circles,” Ralph Waldo Emerson, the 19th-century American lecturer, poet, and philosopher, wrote: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,” that is to say, without intense, eager, enjoyment or passion. Enthusiasm is unplanned. Indeed, one can’t plan for it. But it is an always-welcome guest in our lives. … Continue reading A Strongly-Marked Picture
Plate 106 Black Vulture or Carrion Crow, John James Audubon. In Chapter 3 of The Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin describes his work identifying the carrion-feeding hawks of South America. He writes the following about two of them—Carranchas and Chimangos. These false eagles most rarely kill any living bird or animal; and their vulture-like, … Continue reading A Token for His Protection
Palm Trees and Boulders in the Bay of Rio, Brazil. Marianne North. Date: 1873. One of the distinct pleasures of travel is the opportunity to eat and to drink in new places, to partake of local things, in situ: to dine on Neapolitan pizza cooked in wood-fueled ovens in the bustling port of Naples, for … Continue reading Anything You Choose, Sir!
A Bank of Quaresma and Trumpet Trees, Brazil. Marianne North, Date: 1873. This past weekend, I visited, for the first time, a tropical rainforest, one near San Salvador, Brazil. I had the absolute best of guides, a young Englishman, only twenty-three years old. His enthusiasm about nature was infectious. I was in the company of … Continue reading In a Tropical Rainforest