Nature Writing

“Live free, child of the mist,
— and with respect to knowledge we are all
children of the mist.
” Thoreau

It’s been awhile since I’ve written, because of life’s obligations that are bound to arise, but I’ve still been thinking about new ways to “go green.” As a student of writing, I’ve also been thinking about nature, and the ways it influences my writing. I’ve written personal essays about nature before, but I want to write about it more often (and what better place than a green blog?) Inspiring me in this quest, no doubt, will be Thoreau’s Walden, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, John Muir’s nature essays, among many others that I hope to spotlight here in the next couple of months. Writers such as these remind us why we need to find ways to protect our earth from ruin.

Because it is getting into the coldest of winter, I’m unable to be outdoors much. What a perfect time, then, to reflect on nature and its importance. For, don’t we begin to appreciate more the things we have in our lives when we are without them? I found more influence and, I’ll admit, some envy when stumbling across this article about a similar mission to mix poetry and nature. In his “Poem Forest,” Jon Cotner created an audiovisual tour on a nature walk, inserting recordings of poetry about nature at stops along the trail. He writes,

“The overwhelming message was that the poetic lines encouraged everyone to slow down, to see and sense more clearly, to inhabit the present more deeply, and to fill with enchantment.”

Nature is poetic in itself, and Cotner reminds us of that. As did Thoreau; as did Aldo Leopold; as did Bill McKibben. These writers give the reader more than just a delectable stringing of words–they remind us of the connection we have all felt, and need to feel more often, to the world around us that we sometimes forget existed before we altered it to our needs. Human life is fleeting, and nature, then, should be a rope that we all can hold on to–even if we only grab it when we are without inspiration or clarity.

I also read statistics today that children’s books are not focusing on nature and the environment as much as they used to. Although it is better for kids to be outside, experiencing nature, it’s also important to begin teaching environmental ideals to kids at a young age–and this can’t always be done with “How to” books or shoving recycling in their faces. It’s also necessary to include nature ideas in stories, like with The Giving Tree or The Lorax.  Just a thought…

In the next few weeks, I plan to give you more of my own nature writing and highlight other nature writers who have taught us the fundamentals. Any thoughts or comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

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