by Craig Childs |
REVIEWED BY MICHELLE GREEN
In one haunting essay from this collection, nature writer Childs records a galvanizing moment in the Sonoran Desert. At the end of a scorching day, he and a companion hear a lone coyote howling into the sky. As an experiment, the author pulls his flute from his knapsack and plays "high, furious" notes back. Sighting the coyote in his binoculars, his hiking pal tells him that the animal seems to be responding to the music. "It sat down," he tells Childs. "It's just sitting out there, listening." Elsewhere Childs records the "cloak and dagger affairs" of ravens and the dreamlike experience of being stalked by a jaguar. "Times that I have seen the animals have been like knife cuts in fabric," he writes. "Through the stabs I could see a second world." Yet Childs makes it clear that any observer with enough humility and patience can witness the subtle ways in which raccoons or spotted owls communicate on their own turf—and can, perhaps, send the occasional human signal in return. Reflective but not romanticized, Dialogues is a quietly seductive ode to the power of mindfulness.