Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Essential Reading: Nature

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"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."-- Albert Einstein

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Caroline Grant, Editor-in-Chief and Columnist, writes, "I love Gretel Ehrlich's book, The Solace of Open Spaces, which describes her life after she moves from the city to Wyoming to work as a sheep rancher. She writes with gorgeous precision both about the land and the people shaped by that land: 'If anything is endemic to Wyoming,' she writes, 'it is wind. This big room of space is swept out daily, leaving a bone yard of fossils, agates, and carcasses in every stage of decay. Though it was water that initially shaped the state, wind is the meticulous gardener, raising dust and pruning the sage.''"

Reviews Co-Editor, Katherine Barrett, shares, "I recently read Lydia Peelle's collection of short stories, Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing. All eight stories in the book explore our relationship with the natural world, but not in a hammer-over-the-head sort of way. The theme seeps through unforgettable characters. In 'Kidding Season' for example, we meet Charlie, a hardened young man on the run who stops at a drought-stricken farm just long enough to make a little money. Jolted by merciless nature - the relentless sun; a goat injured and abandoned by its mother -- Charlie decides to take matters into his own hands and confronts the limits of his power to effect change, in himself and in the world."

Christina Marie Speed, Literary Reflections Co-Editor, recommends The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. "I first read this book in fifth grade, and remember being swept away by the intrigue of a natural place. Since I did not live in a suburb, but out of town among wild woods; I had no difficulty imagining birdsong, the density of green in summer, or stark branches in winter. What really interested me while reading this book was how a garden could be -- would be -- walled and locked, and how this served as a metaphor for the relationships of the main characters, Mary, Dickon and Colin. The very best part was how the locked garden ended up freeing all of them, in one way or another, from the things that held them down. By design, I believe that this is the very essence of enjoying nature, whether it be a green garden in the middle of summer, a xeroscape in the desert, or a wild plain in an unfamiliar place. Nature has its own set of healing qualities, which neither words nor medicines can be a substitute."

Katie de Iongh lives in Rye, New Hampshire with her husband and their three young children. She is a community volunteer, freelance writer and college English instructor.

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I'm a native Floridian, and one of my favorite nature books is Forest in the Sand. The changes to the landscape I grew up in are a little depressing, but I felt encouraged by the resilience of nature in the long term. Florida has been under water at least three times in the last few millenia, and something has always come back to life here. Also, as a kid, I read Sam Campbell's stories about being a conservationist in Wisconsin dozens of times.
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