Poetic personal essays and reflections on life, featuring nature as a teacher, theme and metaphor.
LaRizzio (Hey Milkman!, 2011) presents his personal observations on many of life’s key moments, using the idea of nature as a recurring theme. With the studied eye of a landscape painter, he offers deeply personal takes on the seasons, wildlife, modern-day living, sunrise and sunset, the sounds of nature, the art of writing, a place called Mt. Laurel, and the rain, snow and wind, among many other topics. He divides the work into several chapters by year of composition, beginning in 1994 and continuing through 2000, and further organizes the pieces by season and month. He includes black-and-white photographs throughout, giving a sense of both a journey and a journal. LaRizzio assumes the voices of such great transcendentalist writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and he proves to be an able naturalist and philosopher himself: “We are living life at an isolating distance,” he writes, contrasting the beauty of nature with the artificial lives of the modern era. Many first-person observations resonate: “I step outside into the brittleness of the evening air and absolve myself from the oppressive claim of the office. The darkness is pervasive, pouring its heavy chill into the empty spaces that dominate the winter-laden land”; “I’ve come to know the snow as crystallized silence.” Like a book of watercolor sketches, each essay displays LaRizzio’s maturing skills as a descriptive narrator. The occasional overuse of alliteration (“Man surrenders himself to prayer, practice, and preach; to sermon, solemnity, and psalm”) is easily forgiven as the author migrates to rhymed poetry and re-emphasizes his central theme: “I surrender myself to the ethereal breeze, the dawn’s subtle tease that romances the flowers and dances the leaves. I celebrate the liturgy of the morning damp.” In poetic fashion, the book highlights the religion of Mother Nature and prods modern-day unbelievers to examine their own creeds.
A finely introspective work for lovers of nature and Thoreau.