Friday, September 19, 2008

Edwin Teale, Naturalist and Author

Charlotte Mason would have enjoyed reading the works of Edwin Teale, and would have enjoyed sharing his works with her students as a part of Natural Science studies. Edwin Teale's true love of all-natural-things is so clear in his books, spelled out in beautifully discriptive language, that Miss Mason could not have helped but love his writing.

Edwin Way Teale was a naturalist whose book, A Naturalist Buys An Old Farm, I am currently reading. Our family will then read this book together (as a read-aloud) as soon as we finish our current book.

Above: Edwin Teale working inside the "hollow brush pile". It was here that he could work and could observe all of the things around the brushpile without being noticed by the wildlife surrounding him. This "hollow brush pile" was amoung his most favorite work places.

Edwin Teale was 60 years old when he and his wife, Nellie, finally found their "dream home" after wandering throughout the country on assignment and project after assignment and project. Their dream home was a large wooded estate in Connecticut. This home, eventually named "Trailwood," became the subject of this particular book (A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm). He shares his life on an old Connecticut farm as it reverts to its original wildness, with limitless observation and child-like wonder. Edwin Way Teale was a man who loved to wake up in the morning, whether it was to freshly fallen snow, the "trip-hammer tattoo" of a flicker "in the full flush of his springtime exuberance," or even to the fiery blisters from a run-in with poison sumac. He woke each day prepared for an adventure, and decidedly set upon letting nature set it's own course.

"There is, in the gaze of a skunk, something innocent and childlike," writes Teale. He writes with knowledge, yet with an 'innocent gaze,' of his and Nellie's years on Trail Wood Farm. I share this “innocent gaze”, despite having seen many things a million times before.

Instead of the usual city-dweller's view, and rather than the casual observer's perspective, wouldn't it be more satisfying to spend an afternoon, like this author, watching a woodchuck prepare its burrow for hibernation, or observing two skunks wrestling over a bit of food?

Through the pages of Teale's book, we are able to live in nature, at least vicariously.
Quotes By Edwin Teale:

"Those who wish to pet and baby wild animals, love them. But those who respect their natures and wish to let them live normal lives, love them more."

"The difference between utility and utility plus beauty is the difference between telephone wires and the spider web."

“Any fine morning, a power saw can fell a tree that took a thousand years to grow.”

WARNING: The foreword / introduction to this book was an extreme disappointment. It states that Nellie Teale "chose to die on the anniversary of Edwin's death." With some research, I discovered that Mrs. Teale died in August of 1993 whereby Mr. Teale passed away in October 1980. It was nearly 13 years and not on the same day or month as is “implied” in the foreword. The misrepresented foreword would lead a reader to believe that Nellie's death was perhaps suicide when in fact she quite possibly died of cancer since all donations were asked to be contributed to the Cancer Society. This book, minus the foreward, is well worth reading. However, the publisher would be better off leaving out a foreword and adding back into the paperback versions, all the wonderful black and white photographs that can be viewed in the original hardcover copies.

** We are blessed to have found an old hardback copy with all of the photographs – thanks to MamaLion for pointing it out at this year’s Library Booksale. We also have A WALK THROUGH THE YEAR, and a few other titles in our home library.

For more information about Edwin Teale and his books:

(** Portions of this post are from others' online reviews of A NATURALIST BUYS AN OLD FARM.)


Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

I just ordered Circle of the Seasons and I am anxious to receive it and share it with my boys.

Thank you for the wonderful intro to Edwin Teale. I will put this book on my wishlist.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

jamie in rose cottage said...

Sounds quite interesting. Thanks for sharing!

lindafay said...

My daughter enjoyed Circle of Seasons very much. I didn't know he was so old when he wrote these journals. I enjoyed my visit to your blog today! It's so cheerful.


Jimmie said...

Fascinating. I am intrigued by the brush hollow where he observed nature. This person is totally new to me. I will investigate.