The Outermost House (5): A Year of Life on the
Why read it? Like Thoreau at Walden, Beston took up a solitary residence in a cottage on the beach where he could observe the life of the sand and the dunes and the moods of the ocean.
Sample ideas and quotes:
“Now came flash after stabbing flash amid a roaring of rain, and heavy thunder that rolled on till its last echoes were swallowed up in vast detonations which jarred the walls.” p. 186.
“Stars came out after the storm, and when I woke again before sunrise I found the heavens and the earth rain-washed, cool, and clear.” p. 188.
“Had I room in this book, I should like to write a whole chapter on the sense of smell.” p. 189.
“I like a good smell—the smell of a freshly ploughed field on a warm morning after a night of April rain, the clove-like aroma of our wild Cape Cod pinks, the morning perfume of lilacs showery with dew, the good reek of hot salt grass and low-tide blowing from these meadows late on summer afternoons.” p. 189.
“The duneland air burns with the smell of sand, ocean, and sun.” p. 194.
“ ‘June bugs’…strike my screens with a formidable look and linger there buzzing; let me but open the door, and half a dozen are tilting at my table lamp and falling stunned upon the cloth.” p. 197.
“…the creation is still going on….” p. 220.
“Creation is here and now.” p. 220.
“So near is man to the creative pageant, so much a part is he of the endless and incredible experiment, that any glimpse he may have will be but the revelation of a moment, a solitary note heard in a symphony….” p. 220.
“Poetry is as necessary to comprehension as science.” p. 221.
“It is as impossible to live without reverence as it is without joy.” p. 221.
“ ‘Nature—that callous and cruel engine, red in tooth and fang…’ Whenever I hear the phrase or its intellectual echoes, I know that some passerby has been getting life from books.” p.221.
“The economy of nature, its checks and balances, its measurements of competing life—all this is its great marvel and has an ethic of its own.” p. 221.
“…beloved birds of the great beach, and of their beauty and their zest of living.” p. 221.
“A human life, so often likened to a spectacle upon a stage, is more justly a ritual.” p. 221.
“…rest your spirit in her [Nature’s] solitary places.” p. 222.
Comment: Beston’s book is a combination of image and abstract thought suggested by the image. Not as easy to read as you would expect of a nature study. It could more properly be called a meditation. It provides many an idea about the sea, nature. solitude and humanity. RayS.