The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World, by Carl Safina
According to Carl Safina, Lazy Point, which sits just a handful of miles from the eastern tip of Long Island, is “a place of real power,” “a cauldron of vitality.” Nor’easters are constantly whipping in from the north, terns bomb the beaches from all sides, and fish flash in The Cut, a local bottleneck between ocean and Sound. It’s a good place to watch the world, walk the dunes, and see what’s blowing in over the horizon.
The View from Lazy Point is a record, of sorts, of a year spent in intense participation with what Safina comes to call the real “real” world—the one that darts, breathes, and wheels above and around us, while we’re busy finding a parking spot. An excellent naturalist and tireless observer, Safina tells of worlds within worlds—the migratory history of a warbler on a backyard branch; a beach, lit by the moon, crawling with horseshoe crabs—all within a six-something-mile radius of home.
But this is much more than a natural history of a place: Lazy Point is a truly ecological book. At its best, it dwells in the spaces between things, delights in their connections, their interdependence. From his house among the beach grass, Safina works the threads that connect salamanders and philosophers, Great Blue Herons and Gross Domestic Products. “We are a relationship to the world,” he writes, and “the geometry of human progress is an expanding circle of compassion.” Best of all, though, is the humanity between these pages: the reader feels, somehow, as if they’ve spent an afternoon getting lost outdoors with a friend.
In an early chapter, residents of Lazy Point wake to find a Fin Whale—the second largest animal on earth—washed up on a beach, most likely injured by a ship. Safina and his neighbors cover the body in bed sheets and towels, run buckets of water over its skin, and stand watch until help arrives. It’s an omen, somehow, of a strange world to come, but a reminder, too, that the ocean “still brims with the living,” that “the world still sings.” Who knows what mysteries have yet to wash up on our shores?
About the author
Carl Safina has studied the ocean as a scientist, stood for it as an advocate, and conveyed his travels among sea creatures and fishing people in lyrical nonfiction writing. He is the author of four books of nonfiction, including Song for the Blue Ocean, which won a Lannan Literary Award and a MacArthur genius prize. For his latest book, The View from Lazy Point, Safina was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.