I have had a longstanding love affair with Nature for most of my life. I capitalize the “N” in Nature, because “she,” the pronoun commonly used when referring to all things natural, is as real a living entity to me as the next-door neighbors. And in most cases, “she” is a lot easier and much more pleasant to deal with!
It seemed only “natural” for me, therefore, to use Nature as my point of departure in just about all my writing, give or take a few instances when the human conflict took precedence. And even then, considering that we are all part of the great natural scheme of things and are as biologically ordained as that mushroom growing below my porch, a story about people could also be said to be about Nature. And even in my stories about people and their adventures (or misadventures), I always try to tie the drama in to Nature in some way, establish some connection if only to keep myself faithful to that ethos.
Because to me, it IS all about Nature, all the time. Even as a kid growing up in a small southern Maine city, Nature played a role, ever beckoning to me from the more secret places where weeds and other assorted vegetation grew thickly enough for me to hide in and that spoke volumes to me even then. Even at a young age, I felt a true kinship with the tall grasses that I’d lie down in to get away from the street life, from my parents scoldings, or from the neighborhood politics of kids who didn’t always get along. I thrilled at the sight of water draining from a high spot in the fields behind our house that were actually large unoccupied lots between the rows of houses on opposite streets. I got excited about chasing toads through the brush or trapping garden spiders in jars, and I dreamed of one day living in a place where this would be available to me all the time, but far removed from the sounds of cars and trucks and warring neighbors.
I did eventually manage it, not once but twice; but sadly, those experiences now represent two closed chapters in my life, and now here I am in an apartment overlooking a pond, which, in actuality, isn’t bad, not bad at all. At three separate times in my life, I’ve realized my goal of being as close to the woods as possible, and in that respect, I have been so very fortunate. But the other side of that coin is that I have worked hard to transcend other living arrangements that just did not suit me and that negatively affected my quality of life, and to insist, rather, on what enhances it. And I have rarely strayed from that.
Therefore, my books will always take at least one detour through a woodsy or rural place, where my heart is and where it has been for most of my life, if only in my imagination, which has always been very good at supplying me with the images I need to pull it off. It has helped, too, to take lots of photos of my experiences, so that I have something visual to return to from time to time when I need to.
And if nothing else, I can certainly write about Nature, include her in the backdrop or the setting while moving through a story, experiencing its birth exactly where I want it to take place, which is almost as good as actually being there…almost.
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Thank you for taking the time!