When Women Were Birds (That’s a book, not a theory)


Terry Tempest Williams wrote a book called When Women Were Birds.  After finishing it, I don’t know that she ever theorizes, among the many theories and philosophies she espouses, that women were actually birds at any time.

I s’pose if women evolved from birds, and birds evolved from dinosaurs, then women were actually dinosaurs.  Terry doesn’t even mention this!



She does yammer on about her mother’s legacy of dozens of empty journals and endlessly ponders what the significance of those white pages could be.  The significance of the empty journals could be that her mother had nothing to say; or she was, as Terry told us, unwilling to show her thoughts at all.  But if it was that simple, what would she have to write?

The Carnegie Center book club chose the book because Refuge, Ms. Williams’ earlier memoir of her mother, was beloved by readers everywhere.

There ARE birds scattered throughout the book:  Ms. Williams’ shared a bird-watching passion with her grandmother; married her husband because he requested a field guide from her while she was working at a book store; and she is an ecologist, scientist, wilderness advocate and teacher, thus encountering our two-legged friends frequently.

The book claims to be 54 variations on finding your voice.  I guess with the broadest possible interpretation there might be 30 variations on finding your voice.  The other 24 are variations on befuddling your readers with the unexplained dialogue inside the author’s own mind.

I didn’t care for the book, but should you choose to read it and talk about, the best I can suggest for food is:

Carrot and Beet Salad.  Shred 5 carrots and one beet in a food processor.  Toss them together with 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. You could form this into a kind of nest if you wanted to be creative.  Put a hard-boiled egg in the center, if you are into that kind of thing.

Pasta:  if you get thick spaghetti and cook it according to package directions, then dress it with olive oil, it will look somewhat like the worms the little birdies eat.  It’s fun to actually set up a pasta bar and allow your guests to create their own dish.  I use turkey pepperoni, shredded parmesan, sun dried tomatoes, toasted almonds, pesto.  Whatever you like, put it in a small bowl and invite folks to dig in.

For dessert, if it’s Easter or thereabouts you could serve Cadbury eggs on a bed of whipped cream.  Jelly bean cookies might be fun.  Make the cookies according to the Toll House recipe on Nestle’s chips but don’t add chips or nuts.  Add jelly bean instead.

Cheap Cheap … that means enjoy.