Reading Me Some Steinbeck

Yesterday I finished Travels With Charley, some non-fiction John Steinbeck about traveling around America with his poodle, and before that it was The Grapes of Wrath, a festive look at the desperate migrant worker lifestyle. I enjoyed both, though I think I need a break before I read another Steinbeck work, namely East of Eden. Here's a Steinbeck excerpt about the Redwood forest that seems spot on to my experience of the same giant trees fifty years later:

There's a cathedral hush here. Perhaps the thick soft bark absorbs sound and creates a silence. The trees rise straight up to zenith; there is no horizon. The dawn comes early and remains dawn until the sun is high. Then the fernlike foliage so far up strains the sunlight to a green gold and distributes it in shafts or rather in stripes of light and shade. After the sun passes zenith it is afternoon and quickly evening with a whispering dusk as long as was the morning.

Thus time and the ordinary divisions of the day are changed. To me dawn and dusk are quiet times, and here in the redwoods nearly the whole of daylight is a quiet time. Birds move in the dim light or flash like sparks through the stripes of sun, but they make little sound. Underfoot is a mattress of needles deposited for over two thousand years. No sound of footsteps can be heard on this thick blanket. To me there's a remote and cloistered feeling here. One holds back speech for fear of disturbing something-what? From my earliest childhood I've felt that something was going on in the groves, something of which I was not a part. And if I had forgotten that feeling, I soon got it back.

5 comments:

Just Dan said...

'Travels' is a classic, Dave. One of my very faves. But what's this book of his about the grapes? Some kind of cookbook?
:-)
Happy New Year!

Blogagaard said...

Thanks, Dan! Happy New Year, dude. I'm going to drink twelve bottles of champagne and eat caviar from a diamond slipper.

Missy said...

Oh man, steinbeck is my favorite...well, one of them..

did you know that there iss no library in the town he was born in, scandalous. Well, maybe someone put up the money for one after they reported it on MPR.

Anyway, I hope there is a library in the town you were born in!

Blogagaard said...

I think St. Paul has a library? I'm not sure.

starshrine said...

Did LC have a library? It didn't have a bookstore, did it?

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