A comment on Mann & Nature, a book of essays by Perry Mann. (To have your very own copy send me $3 for postage. Julian Martin, 1525 Hampton Road, Charleston, WV 25314. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on this excellent book.)
A comment on reading Mann and Nature–
As one who like Perry Mann grew up on a farm, an orchard farm at that, with the marvelous odors and beauty of apple blossoms greeting us every Spring, his essays brought back many memories associated with closeness to Nature, memories that I fear (as Perry Mann does) that present generations will not experience.
This loss of closeness to Nature – which has been going on for many years now – is reflected in the cavalier manner in which plant life and wild life are treated today – as things to be destroyed and discarded, forgetting their role as part of the independent web of all existence of which we are (just) a part. I remember walking through the woods of my uncle’s farm, picking lady slippers and other wild flowers for bouquets (unfortunately, wild flowers fade quickly and probably should be left alone). There was a brook on the farm too, where clear water rushed by and where in summer, we would take a dip. We had wonderful critters around the farm, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks (not to be messed with) and non-poisonous snakes, to name a few.
Of course we had chickens and cows. Nothing exotic, but all part of the rural landscape that has now virtually disappeared. We would pick blueberries in a nearby swamp and there were a host of other berry bushes on the farm – gooseberry, elderberry, raspberry & blackberry bushes. In summer, we would have fields of strawberries. My aunt produced some delicious pies from some of these.
So, like Perry Mann, I feel fortunate to have lived ‘way back then’ when one could be close to Nature effortlessly. Oh yes, we knew poverty too – of a sort – never lacked food or shelter and we had access to good medical care and very good public education, but we lacked “money”. The Great Depression was on (1930’s)…
By the way, this farm of about 50 acres was in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
A blurb on Mann and Nature
Perry Mann has been recognized in Robert Shetterly’s Americans Who Tell the Truth. On the back cover of Mann and Nature: A Collection of Essays, compiled by Ann Farrell Bowers, Shetterly wrote these words of praise: “Working and living with nature have taught Perry Mann to respect the great web of life, which he believes is much stronger than any human activity. By abusing the earth and not realizing what we need to support the health of this web, he believes we are in danger of destroying ourselves and much of the earth’s life forms with us.” Not well known outside of his community in West Virginia, Perry Mann presents the importance of thousands of unheralded and critically important voices across our country.”
In her introduction to Mann and Nature, Ann Farrell Bowers paid this tribute to Perry Mann: “He was my high school English teacher, and his effect on me was profound. It has been said that it takes only a few good teachers to change a life forever, and he was mine.”