When I started this class, I had read little nature writing outside of Thoreau and Emerson. Over the course of this semester, we encountered a range of voices more diverse than I would have thought possible. From the lyric to the cantankerous, the serious to the comedic. Through the process of these readings and the writings here on this blog, I have learned to slow down and notice the small things. I think Pattiann Rogers had the most profound impact on me. She broadened my idea of what nature and nature writing are and could be; it is everything. I have become a great fan of her poetry and I hope to do similar types of work. I appreciate the brutal honesty of her work. I have found that I really love the nature poem in all its vastness and smallness. One can say so much in a nature poem. I hope I have with mine. In my fiction, I have started using more description of weather and small things as well. One of my toughest characters is beginning to soften her edges by being outdoors, hoeing the garden and planting seedlings. Birds are making their way in to my stories. My stories are becoming more alive.
I have learned to appreciate Charlotte for what she has -a canopy of trees nearly unparalleled by other cities. This project has helped me to accept our move back here. It has helped me wash away a lot of the negative attitude I had about being in Charlotte by connecting me with the physical world here. I have learned to love the quiet spaces and the urban nature that surrounds me. I have learned that Freedom Park is not just a social gathering place. It has moods, shades, aspects when you stop to pay attention. When I started this project, I thought I knew the place already. After all, I had grown up in Charlotte and I have memories at the park from childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. But Freedom Park had been a relative I saw on holidays or special occasions; it wasn’t a relationship, not really. Now, I know I can go there on a weekly basis to help myself stay grounded, to relieve anxiety, to appreciate the joy of being alone or being among sunbathers and guitar players, caterpillars or ladybugs, squirrels and geese. Yesterday, I felt closer than ever to my place. Two mallards came up out of the water and walked right up to me. This was after I wrote my blog in the hours I stayed there, reading my book about Turkey, pondering what’s to come on the next adventure. I knew I would be picturing that moment as I walk on shores half a world away in a few weeks.I will think of the sound of leaves rustling. I will think of the honking of geese. I will think of the wide reach of the willow oaks, of the way the cherry trees looked in March. I won’t give up this relationship. I will maintain it.