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Posts Tagged ‘On a Midwinter’s Eve’

Animals and Nature are usually woven into my stories, poems, non-fiction, and art. I think my interest in Nature and all her creatures started when I was young. My Granny, who lived on property that joined my parent’s backyard, gardened in the early morning and was kind to the neighborhood strays and neglected animals. As a child, I could usually be found tagging along with her.

My family vacationed for a week each summer from the time I was 5 in a cabin in the West Virginia mountains. Deer, raccoons, opossums, snakes, bears, crayfish, minnows, salamanders, bats, and birds were plentiful and often encountered. Unfortunately, so were mice – but that’s a different tale!

I’ve always enjoyed growing flowers, vegetables, and berries. I’ve always loved watching wild animals and having pets. In fact, since I’m short, have never been thin, and quite enjoy a well-prepared meal, I think I’d have made a rather good (though tall at 5’2”) hobbit!

In the beginning of The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien describes the day Gandalf stopped by Bilbo’s home to warn of the coming dwarves thus: “one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous…” More green – that sounds lovely to me.

In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien writes that hobbits are fond of gardening. I especially like the picture painted by this quote from The Fellowship of the Ring (and I can close my eyes and see the image filmed by Peter Jackson for the movie):

Inside Bag End, Bilbo and Gandalf were sitting at the open window of a small room looking out west on to the garden. The late afternoon was bright and peaceful. The flowers glowed red and golden: snap-dragons and sunflowers, and nasturtians trailing all over the turf walls and peeping in at the round windows.

‘How bright your garden looks!’ said Gandalf.

‘Yes,’ said Bilbo. ‘I am very fond indeed of it, and of all the dear old Shire…’”

 I gaze out my window at flowers red and golden: roses, snapdragons, and butterfly weed, and at nasturtiums trailing over a brick wall, and scratch my dog behind her ear. I know I am very fond indeed of Nature, all her creatures, and of living at Wood’s Edge. In both of my short story collections, Owl Light and The Greener Forest, as well as my young adult novel, The Enchanted Skean, animals and plants play important roles. And I suspect, they will always have a special place in my creative work.

For those who’d like to listen to an excerpt from “On a Midwinter’s Eve,” the 1st tale in Owl Light, it’s the reading that begins about 14 minutes into the September 2012 “Nature and Animals” Broad Pod from Broad Universe: http://broadpod.posterous.com/september-2012-animals-and-nature In the excerpt, an owl, wolf, and the winter woods play a role. The complete story has even more animals in it.

So as Bilbo’s much anticipated Birthday Party approaches, I urge you to celebrate Nature and read (or listen to) a story featuring some of her creatures.

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J.R.R. Tolkien wrote: “Little by little, one travels far.”

I believe Tolkien got it right, whether you think about a real trip, or one of life’s journeys. As for me, I’ve been on an interesting journey lately — embracing my love of myth, legend, and folklore, and pursuing publication opportunities in those genres.

Besides my “Fairy Stories, Magic, and Monsters” essay in the forthcoming “Make Believe” issue of  The Little Patuxent Review, I have 2 poems, “Harpers Ferry” & “Venus,” due out in the Maryland Writers’ Association anthology, Life in Me Like Grass on Fire. Both incorporate myth.

Paper Crow magazine just accepted my poem based on a fairytale villian, “A wolf is kept fed by his feet.” My story which features the Daughter of Winter called “On a Midwinter’s Eve,” was just accepted by Tales of the Talisman. And the anthology, In the Garden of the Crow, accepted, “Kingdom Across the River,” a poem of mine that is filled with nursery rhyme and fairytale references.

As part of the process of promoting my collection of fantasy stories, The Greener Forest, I’m attending SynDCon in Rockville, MD on Sat., April 2. And I just attended Mythic Faire a couple of weeks ago where I not only sold a few books, but I got to meet British folklore expert and author of 150 books, John Matthews.

And yes, my geekiness was on full display as I asked a pleasant John Matthews to sign 5 of his nonfiction books for me. I could have lugged along several more, but the volumes were so heavy I risked injury if I loaded them in my backpack. John seems to have happily written about folklore and myth for decades. Me? I’ve just recently gotten brave enough to listen to my heart, and pursue my passion for writing and painting work rooted in myth, legend, folklore, and fairytales.

Finally, I’m taking those little steps with the hope of journeying far, and I encourage each of you, writer or not, to find your passion and pursue it. Deepak Chopra writes: “Listen to our heart, your heart knows.” I believe he’s right.

For those who’d like a peek at the opening poem of The Greener Forest, you can visit poet, editor, educator & mom, Laura Shovan’s March 25th Poetry Friday blog:  http://authoramok.blogspot.com/2011/03/poetry-friday-make-believe.html  Thanks Laura for featuring my poem, and for your kind words about my book.

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