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One Wild Delicate Second

April 30, 2012

WDS cover Introducing Wild Delicate Seconds, a collection of 29 chance encounters with the everyday—and not so everyday—animals, birds, and insects of North America by High Desert Journal editor Charles Finn.

Gretel Erlich calls Wild Delicate Seconds "an exquisite read, full of small surprises with big heartbeats."

We hope you enjoy this excerpt from the book.

Flying Squirrels

It was as great an act of faith as I will ever see. It was late summer, late afternoon, the sun already down and I sat on my front steps eating dinner. Looking up, I was just in time to see a family of four flying squirrels parachute across my yard, teetering against a backdrop of Beaujolais air.

The squirrels fell on a steep angle from cedar to fir. They looked timid, shaky, steering with constant corrections as you do an old pickup with play in the wheel.

Tunk …

Tunk, tunk …


They started from high up, falling as if to impale themselves on the branches below. No sooner did one land than another took off, spread-eagle, casting itself into the air. It was like watching a game of chance, or chase, each squirrel following the exact line picked out by the leader. At the end of each flight they would drop their back legs and sweep up, slapping belly first into the trunk of the tree.


Did they hold their breath as they sailed? Shout a squirrel version of “Geronimo!” and let go? I don’t know, but square as kites they flew—stuntmen, stuntwomen—acrobats in a jungle gym world. When they landed they’d scamper straight up the tree, just a tiny clatter of claws and then some bark raining down. Then from the shadows they’d toss themselves into the air, trusting to those few tablespoons of wind cupped in their arms. I sat on my front porch transfixed, a forkful of pasta suspended halfway to my mouth, the glass of wine at my side untouched. No one ever tells us exactly how hard life is going to be—or how rewarding. The squirrels flew away, disappearing deeper and deeper into the forest.

I was ready to let everything go.

—excerpted from Wild Delicate Seconds

Charles with hawkYou can read Charles' recent thoughts on the writing life at the Northwest Book Lovers blog. Follow his own blog for new writings and adventures, and visit his website for more information.

Charles will launch the book throughout May with readings in Montana and Oregon. Visit our calendar for complete details.


May 2, 7 pm, Chapter One Bookstore, Hamilton, MT

May 3, 7:30 pm, Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, MT

May 4, The Writers' Voice, Billings, MT

May 5, Elk River Books, Livingston, MT

May 8, Fact and Fiction, Missoula, MT

May 11, 7 pm, Nature of Words, Bend, OR

May 12, 2 pm, High Desert Museum, Bend, OR

May 13, 4 pm, Dudley's Bookshop Cafe, Bend, OR

May 14, 7:30 pm, Powell's @ Hawthorne, Portland. With Kim Stafford and Paulann Peterson

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