Skip to main content
Bookish ThoughtsNature Thoughts

The Sunday Salon: My pilgrimage at Tinker Creek

By February 6, 20116 Comments
The Sunday

Last night I finished my about my about two month long read of Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, so I feel like I have truly been camped out at Tinker Creek right along with her and thought I would share my experiences for my first Sunday Salon. This is a nice book to read slowly…there’s no real plot or characters you’ll forget, and it’s the kind of book you want to kind of absorb gradually. I already posted about the freakiness of bugs in the book (and she came back to the frog and the giant water bug at the end in even more graphic detail…I don’t think there’s an image from any other book I’ve ever read that will stick with me as much as the frog and the water bug).

Tinker Creek

Tinker Creek is the kind of book that you’ll be thinking about for years and years, I think, and probably coming back to, so I thought instead of a review, I’d just share some of my very favorite quotes from the book. This is also the kind of book you’ll need to read with a pencil or some other means of recording all the very interesting things she has to say.

My favorite quotes:
“The sight held awesome wonders: power and beauty, grace tangled in a rapture with violence. We don’t know what’s going on here.”

This quote pretty much sums up the whole of the book and, perhaps, life. Power, beauty, violence, and we don’t really know what’s going on.

“It’s all a matter of keeping my eyes open.”

“Donald E. Carr points out that the sense impression of one-celled animals are not edited for the brain: ‘This is philosophically interesting in a rather mournful way, since it means that only the simplest animals perceive the universe as it is.’”

“So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity.”

“‘Still,’ wrote van Gogh in a letter, ‘a great deal of light falls on everything.’”

“Seeing is of course very much a matter of verbalization. Unless I call my attention to what passes before my eyes, I simply won’t see it.”

“I bloom indoors in the winter like a force forsythia; I come in to come out.”

“All that summer conceals, winter reveals.”

“Nature will try anything once.”

“Live water heals memories.”

“The energy of that pulse reminds me of something about the human body: if you sit absolutely perfectly balanced on the end of your spine, with your legs either crossed tailor-fashion or drawn up together, and your arms forward on your legs, then even if you hold your breath, your body will rock with the energy of your heartbeat, forward and back, effortlessly, for as along as you want to remain balanced.”

The giant water bug

“We have not yet found the dot so small it is uncreated, as it were, like a metal blank, or merely roughed in–and we never shall.”

“The average size of all living animals, including man, is almost that of a housefly.”

“I have often notice that these things, which obsess me, neither bother nor impress other people even slightly.”

“There is no one standing over evolution with a blue pencil to say, ‘Now that one, there, is absolutely ridiculous, and I won’t have it.’”

“Slow it down more, come closer still. A dot appears, a flesh-flake. It swells like a balloon; it moves, circles, slows, and vanishes. This is your life.”

“Evolution loves death more than it loves you or me.”

“We are freaks, the world is fine, and let us all go have lobotomies to restore us to a natural state.”

“Heisenberg himself says, ‘method and object can no longer be separated. The scientific method world-view has ceased to be a scientific view in the true sense of the word.’”

“Thomas Merton wrote, ‘There is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.’”

“If I am a maple key falling, at least I can twirl.”

And this is the perfect quote to end with as, for me, it sums up what Dillard comes away with in the end.

Upcoming review:  A Novel About My Wife, by Emily Perkins


  • DanaB says:

    How positively intriguing! Thanks so much for those quotes…I shall have to take a look at this book!

    ~~Happy Sunday 🙂


  • Sara Hare says:

    I remember that a friend recommended this book by saying that she carried it around in her purse because she could stand to be away from it.
    I loved it too — thanks for reminding me how amazing and observant she is. It's about time that I re-read it.

  • Gypsi says:

    I'm positively intrigued! I plan to add this one to my list to read! (I came via the Sunday Salon.)

  • Gypsi says:

    I have to laugh, as I see another commenter wrote nearly the same thing! 😀

  • Isn't it wonderful when you read a book that has so many bits you mark to read again? I've written a few reviews that are mostly excerpts/passages from the book – great way to get our attention on TINKER CREEK!

  • Robyn says:

    DanaB, it wasn't the easiest book for me to get into…it sat around for quite a while, but I found it rewarding once I got farther in.

    Sara Hare, I like the idea of carrying it around with you. It inspired me to go take a walk in Clifty this morning…Winter reveals what summer conceals.

    Gypsi, love your blog and thanks for stopping by.

    Dawn, I had to read Tinker Creek with a pencil stuck in the middle, I was always underlining. Still, I think there were more quotes I could have included.

Leave a Reply