Regular readers of our blog were treated a few weeks back to the story of Fly, a seven-year-old sheepdog “owned” by Donald McCaig. McCaig, the author A Useful Dog and the soon-to-be-released Mrs. and Mrs. Dog: Our Trials, Travels, Adventures, and Epiphanies, continues the story of Fly in a new piece, which begins, “Noticing many sheepdog handlers wear shooting glasses to eliminate glare, a novice asked top handler Scott Glenn, what color glasses she should order. ‘Rose-colored,’ Scott deadpanned. I ask a lot of my dogs: I want an intimate working partnership. I want them to handle any breed of sheep on any terrain in blowing snow, scorching heat, or moonless night. I want them to be politely indifferent to other dogs and mannerly in airports, office buildings, packed elevators, other people’s homes, and public places. I can only ask this much if I can see my dogs; if I’ve put those rose-colored glasses aside. Seeing them is easier said than done.”
This month we begin a series of pieces by Jeffrey Greene, author of The Golden-Bristled Boar (out in paperback this April). Jeff’s next book concerns foraging and cooking wild edibles. His first post begins in the Louvre, where be becomes mildly obsessed with the oysters as they appear in the Dutch still lifes, and takes him to the French coast in search of the grandest oyster of them all, the giant pied de cheval.
The still-unfolding story of the Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise ship run aground off the coast of the Tuscan island Giglio, has reminded us of dangers, and remedies, nearly as old as seafaring itself. Reports of the thousands of passengers’ struggle to escape made us think of John Stilgoe, whose book Lifeboat is the definitive study of one of the fixtures of survival at sea. Stilgoe took a few minutes from his duties as Lois Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape at Harvard to answer our questions about the sinking ship and the enduring role played by the smaller boat you never thought you’d have to use.
The wild boar appears to us as something straight out of a myth. But as Jeffrey Greene learned, these creatures are very real, living by night and, despite shrinking habitats and hordes of hunters, thriving on six continents. Greene takes us on a journey filled with wonders and discoveries about these majestic animals the poet Robinson Jeffers called “beautiful monsters.”
“The Golden-Bristled Boar is an elegant book that looks at the landscape and ecology of what would seem to be our most inelegant natural neighbor.”—Robert Sullivan Jr.