“Arpeggio of Redwings. Chesapeake Seasons: A Guide to Joy.” by Audrey Y. Scharmen (New Bay Books 2020.)
This is one savory volume of short essays on loving and living daily family life with nature as part of the action. The beauty and magic of ephemeral, neighborhood happenings (especially related to birds, wildflowers and backyard gardening) are exquisitely conveyed. Even more poignant are the author’s memories of her own children and grandchildren developing their sense of natural wonder. The essays often read very poetic —especially if you’re a fan of poet Mary Oliver and the like. Those who love wildlife spaces beyond the author’s Chesapeake Bay Area will find plenty to relate to, cheer and ponder. It’s a very cozy read, full of whimsy, wonder and fairytale mysticism for anyone sentimental about seasons as each waxes and wanes. Members of organizations which focus on birding, gardening, native landscape restoration —-or good fairytales —-would enjoy this literary treat. Nature educators and protectors, add this to your night stand. It will reinforce your work immensely without being a “heavy academic” read. BTW, there are award-winning essays in this little treasure—enjoy.
Sandra, Yes, please, add me to any lists available. I’ll like hearing what’s shaking at New Bay Books.
Alas, I have no shirt-tail relations in the Maryland region, so I have no ties. I just love natural spaces and good /writing reading. I ordered Dawn Anyway yesterday with high hopes.
Glad you were able to use some of my comments about Arpeggio of Redwings for New Bay communications. It deserves a wide readership. Really sorry the author didn’t see the book, but how wonderful her family ultimately made her dream come true. It’s a great way to live beyond the shabby short human lifespan.
It was my pleasure, Sandra. I posted it on my FB page, too. Here’s a response I think you and the family will like. And thanks fir the backstory on the book’s creation! From my friend Laura: “ Yes, thank you for your review, Karen. It speaks to me so much! My ancestry is from that region going back to the 1600s, and I love it there. I was happy to see the book available and inexpensive online. I’ll have my copy tomorrow. 😍”
And what a treat Karen's words are! I'll be sending them along to the family and using them for a new mailing.
This book, our first, meant a great deal to me as it was the bridge between my old career—30 years as a newspaper editor—and my new one as a book publisher. Audrey Scharmen had written for Bay Weekly and our thousands of readers since our earliest days, back in 1993, as New Bay Times. Her essays were so comforting, giving a deliberate projection of order to a sometimes unruly world, a little like watching All Creatures Great and Small back on PBS in a new version. Essay by essay she won my, and my readers' hearts. Then she pulled an unprecedented trifecta: first prize (for "local column" in our size range, up to 20k distribution) three years running, each year judged by different press associations around the country.
In 2020, when New Bay Books was gestating, Audrey was, alas, no longer with us. But her daughter and son-in-law, Peggy and Michael Lynch, wanted to preserve Audrey's work in a book. Over the years, I had gathered the diaspora of her columns spanning a dozen years. Meanwhile, I had discovered that the multi-talented artist Suzanne Shelden—of Calvert County, Maryland, where Audrey and her aviator husband Merrill lived the last chapter of their lives—made books as well as paintings. The forces combined to produce Arpeggio of Redwings, named by Peggy Scharmen Lynch from a line in one of Audrey's most moving essays inside cover art Peggy had also created.
Thank you, Karen, for sharing with many Marylanders the thrill of Audrey's work.