Read This to Learn That: Nature Writing


I’ve only once fallen in love with a piece of land, and I’ve been trying to write about it for a decade.

When I bought a horse in Paraguay, I would take it out in the fields:

In front of me the grasses swayed silent. Pinkish light domed the horizon. Tiny wildflowers, just pixels on the landscape, became their own detailed world when I plucked them between my fingernails and leaned in close. Horses grazed in the grasses near the ponds, sometimes a dozen at a time, the setting sun lighting a neon line in the hair on their bellies and backs. When the foals chased and jumped on each other like puppies in a yard, while I stood still and watched, feeling Bigote’s lungs expand with his breath between my calves.

I came to know a piece of earth. One day I followed the ants carrying scraps of leaves down their dry rivers in the grass, I learned they converged on a mountainous nest in the brush. After a dozen days of seeing small owls, I found the hole in the knobby hill where they hopped out to tilt their heads and regard me. When I trotted the stream running through the tan grass in a line of green plants and trees, I found toad eggs there

Reading Pam Houston’s Deep Creek reminded me of why I want to finish this piece. She writes about moving to 120 acres at 9,000 feet in Colorado, and how in many ways that saved her.

If you want to write about all the outdoorsy, natural, or the animal, this book‘s for you.

“And this much is true, as long as I am in charge of it, this land will not turn into condos, it will not be mined or forested, it will not have its water stolen or its trees chopped down. No one will be able to put a cell tower in the middle of my pasture and pay me $3,000 a year for space. One of the gifts of age though is the way it gently dispels, all our heroic notions. All the time I thought I was busy taking care of the Ranch, it was busy taking care of me.”

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