Monday, December 15, 2008

Aw, shucks

So, I turn uncustomarily sheepish when anyone hurls a compliment at me. I tend to altogether change the subject really fast, turn attention to someone else, or dismiss the compliment ("oh, no, really, it's's easy....stop.") and back away from the situation. Earlier this month, an esteemed, truly brilliant entomologist and gifted writer bestowed upon me a fine award which he had justifiably won. A California-based blog, The Scholastic Scribe, created The Superior Scribbler Award (artwork undoubtedly inspired by Sempé) for weblog writers. Ted, author of Beetles in the Bush and Bikes, Bugs, and Bones, won this award and bestowed the esteemed prize on me. Winning the award, however, comes with a set of rules:
1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog and link to this post, which explains The Award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Like Ted, my entomologist friend who was given the award by another talented writer, Huckleberry (a natural history expert in British Columbia), I am stumped by the first rule. I read a private blog, available to close family friends only (thus exempt from the award). Shamelessly, in moments of desperation, yearning for tennis season, I flip to Maria Sharapova and all of her excessive exclamation points and pink hearts and read her blog about "how wonderful (insert tennis tournament name here) is!." Occasionally, I'll end up at a blog about vegan cooking while looking for an eggplant recipe. But really, Ted writes the only blogs I actually read: beautifully crafted essays about insects and the world they live in, offering great depth to the natural history of the world's unsung heroes. Ted has such a wealth of knowledge that he carefully and deftly connects the life history of a single beetle to an entire landscape. He writes of host plants, of water requirements, of the incredibly intricate details that make entomology as fascinating as it is. His photographs are stunning, capturing the essence of a landscape. He's also an avid cyclist and regularly takes great, long rides in and out of the country and writes beautifully about the places he's gone through, about tribulations and triumphs of an avid cyclist. Ted's a fascinating man, a responsible father, extremely well-respected in his field, and yet I've never actually met him. Never even heard his voice. I imagine when I do meet him, I'll give him a warm hug.

So, in a way, I feel like I've failed Ted by not being able to uphold my end of the award. I'm usually so embarrassed by recognition that I just don't show up at ceremonies or I use thick wooden engraved plaques as door jambs. But an award for writing? Tell that to my Terence professor who wrote: "your paper on the running slave had such potential!"

And worse yet, this comes 5 weeks, 3 days, and 8 hours after a ridiculous running injury that has forced me to stay out of the undulating Ozark landscape that inspires me to sit down at my 1920s table in Columbia and write. I haven't been outside at all, barring the walk from my Honda to the misplaced, out of character, unhealthy bass trees outside of my office (complete with 10 years' worth of compacted mulch around the bases, which has essentially girdled each tree). I'm hoping to get back into the field once this week's gnarly weather passes. I was told to rest my leg for 6 weeks. 6 weeks without a run, without a hike in the woods, without a scramble through a burn unit has been torturously slow. I've managed to plow through embroidery projects, (pictured, from last year's projects, 1940s patterns!) keep a clean-ish house every once in a while, spend more time reading.

As I accept Ted's compliment, the charming, illustrated Super Scribbler's Award, I promise to write more (once my leg heals) and to finally investigate all of the other writers who spend time behind the cool glow of a computer screen at night to share their thoughts, however intimate or vaguely interesting, with the world.


Anonymous said...

I've always loved paying you compliments- it's so easy to do, and it makes you blush. AND, you respond with lines such as 'well, I am sure you know all your fern genera better than I do'.

Beetles In The Bush said...

Aw, shucks - who's getting the award here?

Your kind words had me giggling inside all day, but whatever meager talent my writings display is truly expressed only because of your inspiration. Reading your writings taught me passion and showed me about connecting dots. I craft my essays, but it is a ponderous process wrought with fits and starts. Your essays, on the other hand, flow smoothly and beautifully from the mind to the pen. You are the original, and I am your student. Thank you for being such a beautiful, awesome person.