My mom counted birds for the Audubon Society, and there was always a chart posted near the windows that looked out on the bird-feeders. I could identify at least a dozen different species at a glance. We put out salt licks for the deer, corn and stale bread for the raccoons that would come to our front door, putting their little hand-like paws on the long windows that flanked it and peering inside, and the ducks that would waddle across the street to our yard under the cover of the hand-painted "Duck Crossing" sign my mom made. One faithful pair of mallards, Joe and Mallory, brought their ducklings every year.
I still love animals and I'm still a nature geek; and yet sometimes I feel I've lost some of the effortless magic of that connection. My brothers and I spent countless hours roaming the woods, inventing games brought to life through sheer imagination. In my memory, it seems I could name every tree and plant that grew in those woods. That's probably an exaggeration, but on occasion I'm struck by the realization that I don't know if I can tell, say, an elm tree from a beech. My knowledge of and engagement with the natural world around me seems more tenuous and shallow than it did when I was a child.
To be fair, I spend a lot less time roaming the woods; and when I do, if my imagination is engaged, it's not with my surroundings. I'm deep inside my own thoughts, working through a scene in a book or teasing out some knotty plot twist. And sometimes, to be honest, my imagination simply isn't engaged. Sometimes I'm just putting on the headphones and going for a trail run, just trying to keep in shape; not unmindful of the beauty around me, yet disconnected from it.
Some of that is just simply... well, life. Being a writer entails spending a LOT of time deep inside one's own thoughts. It's generally time well spent, and I don't begrudge it. But with spring upon us here in Michigan, green buds on the trees, yellow forsythia in bloom, trillium and Dutchman's breeches and toad lilies and Jack-in-the-pulpits emerging in the woods, I will try to remind myself to step back from time to time, and reconnect with my surroundings; to remember that there is magic in this season of rebirth and renewal.
I recommend it.
In other news... well, there really isn't any other news this month, hence my musings on nature! But I have a few different things in the works including a project, something new and completely different, that I've been keeping under wraps for a while. I hope to have something fun to announce in the not-too-distant future.
Until then, take care!