Nature Being Writ ~ Part Two

Continued from Part One, of course.

And so, my initial response to this request would be to try to reframe the experience into one of improved nature relationship rather than improved nature writing.

What I would rather see happen than forcing a student to write who has no passion to write would be to have a student find their own way to express their growing understanding of their relationship within nature and place. It might be environmental activism, art, or working with children to overcome “nature deficit disorder.”

(For all of these endeavors, as for many successful professional careers, the ability to express ones self are no less necessary than they ever were, though appallingly these language and logic skills become anemic the more the younger generation depends on spell check and emoticons.)

This nature-relationship  begins to form in the immediate bubble that contains the soil under our feet and the heavens over our heads. Using our senses to better comprehend the microcosm around us helps us grasp its relationship to the macrocosm of ecosystem, continent and planet. This is a long-winded way of saying…

“One place, understood, helps us know all places better.” Thank you, Eudora Welty.

I have started an outline of possible ideas. Of course, I would like to incorporate the visual aspect of nature relationship, which in my life gives rise to nature-based photo-essays. So much more of our lives are illustrated with images these days, but I’ll be willing to be that for these students, very few of their camera or phone pix are of landscapes or creatures.

And as I think about the variety of things that I have written from and about nature, it occurs to me that there are several categories within this wide field of “nature writing” that each has a distinct voice and purpose.

More tomorrow

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Yup. Let other writing teachers massage their writing. Your unique contribution is your relationship with nature. That is what you need to share.