Why I Write Books About Nature
This essay was originally published in Bookology Magazine.
I was a free-range kid before “free-range” was a thing. Rain, snow, wind, or shine, my siblings and I were outside most every day leaping in puddles or leaf piles, flying kites, picking dandelions, sailing maple whirligigs, and building snow forts or sand castles. “Go outside and play” was the chorus to our childhood. In fact, outdoor play was our parents’ cure-all for almost every emotional upset or domestic problem we encountered. Tears? Boredom? Disagreements? Fights? A stressful school day or impossible homework? Outdoor play was the remedy. I admit there were limitations to my parents’ sometimes singular approach to child-rearing, and they met with resistance at times. However, I can honestly say that 95 percent of the time, outdoor play actually was the right medicine for me.
Today, writing about nature and outdoor play just feels as natural and right to me as breathing. All my happy memories of chasing frogs, climbing trees, and splashing in summer lakes easily inform the stories I write. But more importantly, even though I no longer live in a body that can leap and climb, I still love the experience of being outdoors, close to nature and then translating that experience into words that leap, climb, or even fly.
Nature (if only the birdsong I hear on a stroll around the block) brings me back to center. Trees and flowers, fireflies and foxes, snowflakes, sunsets, the smell of fallen leaves and rain wake up my spirit and my senses. They cheer me when I am sad. They anchor me when I am anxious. They fill my imagination with color and motion and mischief and memories…