Quote of the Day: Terry Tempest Williams

Today’s Quote of the Day is from one of my favorite memoir and nature writers, Terry Tempest Williams:

“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.” ― Terry Tempest Williams

“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.” ― Terry Tempest Williams: When The Women Were Birds

 

*Lesser Goldfinches photo by Pamela J. Leavey

 

Musings: Seeking the Primal Escape from Technology

Deer Grazing Under the Apple Trees

A deer grazing under apple trees in Eastport, Maine

Nature is the most primal escape from technology that we can seek out to realign ourselves with our very humanity. While nature has long been considered the great escape, the need to escape into nature is more pressing than ever as we are literally consumed by technology itself.

There are devices all around us. Those devices suck us in. They trap us, spellbound. Waiting. Patiently. For the Text, the PM, the Tweet, the News Feed update.

Those devices alert us to pay attention to them, now, not later; not unlike the Myna birds in Aldous Huxley’s Island, parroting “Here and Now Boys, Here and Now,” reminding every one to be in the moment. Being in the moment is a wonderful thing.

However, if being in the moment means we are constantly connected to digital communication via IPhones, Droids, Tablets, Laptops, Desktops, and every other Smart technology device that invades our lives unless we turn them on “mute,” then we have a problem. We are swiftly becoming a Universe of Devices. We’ve forgotten how to disconnect. Continue reading

Writers on Writing: Jane Bernstein

Reading Jane Bernstein’s essay “How and Why” brought to mind my own very speculative mind and spirit that is in constant query as to the how and why’s of things. As a writer, my speculative mind and spirit causes me to look deeper into my own heart and mind, and I feel that it also grants me a strong intuitive mind that understands what is deep within other minds, connecting me to depths of humanity and life itself.  Reading “How and Why,” I could identify with Bernstein’s running, in that I walk, to clear my mind and “mull” things over. (Griffin p. 11)

When I am walking outside in nature, I lose myself into the landscape that envelops me as though I am one with it. When I am walking outside in nature, I tune out any extraneous real world soundtrack and tune into the concerto of bird song or the rustle of the leaves or marsh grasses whispering in the soft breeze or perchance keening in the wicked wind. My mind becomes clear, empty in that process of immersing myself in nature and it is then that I mull, as Bernstein does when she is running. There is a space in a clear mind that creates from a point deeper, more connected to the soul, which is a vital point of connection needed to write in the first person about one’s self and life.

Jane Bernstein’s essay “How and Why” is available in Connie Griffin’s book “To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction.” This book has been my go to book throughout the past two years studying Creative Writing at UMass Amherst University Without Walls. It has also served as textbook and reference book for four classes I have taken with Connie Griffin, including two core classes, Frameworks of Understanding and Writing for Experience, as well as Magazine Writing and Creative Non-fiction. 

The practice of reading other writers on their struggles with their craft is so helpful. All writers struggle with finding their voice, creating the right space to work in, shutting out their inner critic and getting past self-doubt. Those are just a few of the issues that writers face. As I continue to work through my own issues with writing and work to shape my first memoir, look for more posts here on Writers on Writing.

Ansel Adams: Visionary

anseladamsAnsel Adams was an only child, born to old parents in San Francisco on February 20, 1902. He was the only child of businessman Charles Hitchcock Adams and Olive Bray, and the grandson of a timber baron. Adams’ family home was in located in the coastal Golden Gate area of San Francisco. It was there that Adams developed an early appreciation for nature.

He was a shy child, possibly dyslexic, and subsequently he did not do well in school. He was ultimately home schooled, which led to solitary time spent walking along the still undeveloped and wild coastline. At twelve years old Ansel Adams learned piano on his own, and went on to pursue piano as his career. However, in 1916 Adams first visited Yosemite, which changed his passion from piano to photography. It was there in Yosemite that he would take up the camera, a Kodak No. 1 Box Brownie, which was a gift from his parents. Ansel Adams would ultimately spend quite a bit of time yearly at Yosemite, until he passed away on April 22, 1984.

Adams joined the Sierra Club in 1919 and subsequently spent the next “four summers in Yosemite Valley, as “keeper” of the club’s LeConte Memorial Lodge.”[1] This would prove to be quite opportune for Adams, as he became friends with many of the leaders of the Sierra Club and became involved with the early conservation movement. It was here at Yosemite that Adams would also meet his wife, Virginia Best. Adams involvement with the Sierra Club was pivotal to his early career as a photographer, with publication of his both his writings and photographs in their 1922 Bulletin and then a “his first one man exhibition in 1928 at the club’s San Francisco headquarters.”[2] Adams began to see the potential to make a modest living as a photographer through his continued involvement with the Sierra Club. Continue reading

Musings: Stone Walls

There are troubles, that brew in my heart and mind, which are weightier than the stones stacked precariously upon each other forming centuries old walls across the landscape. I question the existence of my troubles as I question where did these stone walls come from?

stone wall

Who moved these stones from place to place to build these walls that block my path? Who took these stones from the earth and stacked them just so, creating boundaries where once there were none.

I am a woman with few boundaries, except when it comes to my heart, which I shield with stone walls, keeping love a bay. This is my truth, though I rarely speak it.  Continue reading

Musings: I Am the Nature That Borders My World

snowy egretI build my understanding and reason about all things in life around the nature that borders my world. I absorb the entities of nature that are around me.

I take up sometimes for the briefest of moments, the flight of the hawk, or the hop of the rabbit. I scream like the fox, I swish like the fish flowing downstream with the tide. I peer into the pool of water and find my reflection. I am the wild creatures and the wild creatures are me.

It is in the moments of communing with nature that I am free from the commonplace stresses of the world. It is in the moments that I let my imagination run wild and soar free, with the wild creatures around me, that I am free from the stresses of the world.

I build my sanity and reason around myself with the nature that surrounds my realm. I am the eagle hunting fish in the river. I am the squirrel storing nuts for winter. I am the buds on the trees in the spring. I am the river as to flows to the ocean. I am the ocean whose waves crash on the shore. I am the nature that borders my world.