Most of you have probably read about Nature Deficit Disorder, or seen programs about it on television. (Maybe it’s too bad we’ve come to identify so many problems as a “disorder” of one type or another, but at least that’s less negative than something like “Nature Deficit Illness” or “Attention Deficit Illness.” ) In any case, nature deficit is aligned with obese children–and fat adults, too.
The English word “nature” comes from Latin “nasci,” to be born. I guess that suggests our roots in nature go back to our birth, beginning, and awakening. But, the human body itself did not evolve amid concrete, asphalt, and steel. Those things did not exist when our distant ancestors roamed the land in search of food and shelter. Our background is in nature, our “natural” tendency is to awaken and be more fully alive in nature. Even today, many people who live in paved-over city areas head out into nature whenever the opportunity is offered. Good for them! Children are being encouraged to head outdoors for periods of running, climbing, and exploring, at least when wary parents can manage to allow this. In fact those wary parents would do well to spend more time in nature themselves.
I have lived outside some of the time for most of my life, and I survived and thrived. (See my non-fiction book, “DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow,” for more information.)
Until recently, when the demands of a full-time writing career took over both our lives, my husband and I grew most of our food, climbed our hills, roamed the forest we live in and, on vacation, camped out in living nature.
My first published works as a writer were all about nature. They were non-fiction; and essays and articles about outdoor life in the Ozarks–everything from making a garden on rocks and clay, to confronting snakes, ticks, and chiggers without trauma–appeared in magazines and newspapers around the United States, and even in some other countries, for many years. I was identified fully as a nature writer, and DEAR EARTH is made up almost wholly of my experiences among wild things.
Then my career evolved into news broadcasting, and I spent more and more time in meetings, and interviews. Nature appeared in my fifteen-minute news programs only rarely.
Another evolution came when I began writing fiction. But, instead of continuing the evolution away from the natural world, it took me right back into it. Plots in most of my mystery novels involve activities and events among Ozarks trees, hills and hollows. Nature even provides clues in several of the stories. (Most strongly in A VALLEY TO DIE FOR, and A RIVER TO DIE FOR.
As I write this, I have decided my next series novel will have to take Carrie, Henry, some of their friends–along with this author–back out into the woods! I hope you can join me.
So, how do you feel about “nature writing?” If you are a writer, what place does the natural world– the world of wild things–have in your work?