Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Sense of Wonder – A reflection on nature writing

This semester of nature writing has expanded my perceptions of nature writing just as last semester’s course on travel writing greatly expanded my views on writing about place. More than ever I think that both are connected. When I travel, I am drawn to natural locations so it is difficult to disentangle writing about place and writing about nature. My personal library has grown too. I have writers on my shelf now that weren’t there before. I have been especially intrigued by Native American writers such as Silko but other writers such as Terry Tempest Williams have touched my life. It was vindicating to read works by writers I knew personally, whose works were already part of my vernacular. Re-reading these authors and discovering new works by them was sort of a validation of what I already believed. This is the last formal Chatham Nature Writing entry on this nature blog. Will the blog continue? Most definitely. It has become a forum for me to express my personal point of view and to share with others.

One thing that has been on my mind is the reason I chose Chatham. I had researched several schools but when I found Chatham and learned of the connection with Rachel Carson and their focus on the environment and nature, it had to be Chatham for me. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had a huge impact on me while I was in high school. Last week at my favorite used book store I came across her book A Sense of Wonder which was written for her nephew but time ran out for her before she finished it. She wrote it in 1956 and it was published by Charles Pratt in 1965. In it she says, “No child should grow up unaware of the dawn chorus of the birds in spring.”

Carson also says, “If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.“

I am thankful to the good fairies that I was born with that sense of wonder. I have tried to impart the same wonder to my son. I hope that my sense of wonder lasts me all the rest of my days.

1 comment:

Melanie Dylan Fox said...

You're absolutely right that place and nature are inextricably linked. I'm so glad that this blog will continue, and that I can continue to follow it. And thank you for sharing that Carson quotation - such a lovely sentiment!