Feel like escaping for a moment, and stepping outdoors, to number the birds? I'm delighted to share that my first piece of nature writing--a new genre for me--has just been published by Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. From the notes Flyway asked me to provide to accompany my piece, "The Compiler":
"The birds have always been with me as I write. Though I wouldn’t count myself an accomplished birdwatcher, I have my books, my guides, my lists, and they travel with me. My Birds of Texas went with me, for example, when I spent six months working on a novel on a ranch in the hill country outside of Austin. The other day one of my students asked me, after I’d described how wonderful it was there, watching the birds stretch and bonnet in front of my window: “So what’s your favorite?” Painted Bunting I said without hesitation, remembering how I looked up from the keys one morning to find it staring from the sill at me, or maybe at its reflection, me nothing but a dark drape of bunting behind it. Writing “The Compiler” it was important to me to remember that numbers go both ways, that a tally is something not distinct and official, but impressionistic, and a function of perspective. On that cold day in southern Utah (where I write for about four months out of every year), the temptation, at first, was to leave myself out of the reckoning. Such a satisfying feeling, scribbling two and twenty of this or that—what a fine contribution. Then the buck looked back at me and my sense of service evaporated. A little later, I remember, the ink in my pen froze, the temperature had dropped so low--although I don’t know how far, exactly."
Hope you'll find this excursion into words and nature as bracing as I did! You can read the full essay here.
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