A wind has come up, alive and rustling in the reed canary grass. It soughs in the pines on the knoll above the Reedgrass Pool. The evening wind is their common voice, but the pines and grasses have distinctive tongues. I look up at the pines’ black silhouettes and see that these trees hold hands with the wind. With wavelike bowings and risings, they seem to pass the wind from one to another. An earlier voice comes up anew, a voice of a thousand voices that intensifies as daylight diminishes, until I can no longer hear the wind. Spring peepers fill the edge of night with a shimmering wall of sound, a massive, pulsing union of shrill pipings.

Wind in The Rock

woman looking over Grand CanyonI sit, taking notes as long as I can see, and then go up to the saddle. The wind is fierce cross the twenty-foot gap, this hiatus in the rock, but somehow it’s the right wind. Up here it is fitting that there is wind, keeping open the slot in the wall, charging through, honing the air, taking voices away. The moon sharpens and brightens, bringing Saturn with it, rising in an open quadrant of sky. I absorb the strength of the earth through feet rooted in the rock. If I could raise my arms high enough I could garner thunderbolts and grasp them like a bouquet of crackling light.

–Ann Zwinger, Wind in the Rock, Harper and Row, 1978

Snowy Morning

cabin morningThe next morning I sat in the sunlight in front of the cabin and listened to the merry song of the chickadees, even though it was all of thirty below zero. I watched a red squirrel climb a jackpine to look for cones and then run around over the snow to find some it had cached…
The coffeepot was on the fireplace, and wood smoke curled up into the still morning air. Sun dogs shone over the hill back of the beach, and trees cracked loudly with the frost. It was no time to be sitting outside, even in the sun. This was a morning for reading and inviting one’s soul.

–Sigurd F. Olson, Sigurd F. Olson’s Wilderness Days, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972
Photo by Paul Smith

Why We Write

woman writing on ground in parkWe write in order to share, for one thing—to share ideas, discoveries, emotions. Alone, we are close to nothing. In prolonged solitude, as I’ve discovered, we come very close to nothingness. Too close for comfort. Through the art of language, most inevitable of the arts—for what is more inevitable than language?—we communicate to others what would be intolerable to bear alone.
We write as well to record the truth, to unfold the folded lie, to bear witness to the future of what we have known in the present, to keep the record straight.
We write, most importantly in order to defend the diversity and freedom of humankind from those forces in our modern techno-industrial culture that would reduce us all, if we let them, to the status of things, objects, raw material, personnel; to the rank of subjects.

–Edward Abbey, Abbey’s Road, E.P. Dutton, 1979
Photo by Sasin Tipchai

Autumn Begins

Man looking across the Sound to SkyeAutumn begins for me with the first day on which the stags roar. Because the wind is nearly always in the west, and because the fences keep the bulk of the stags to the higher ground above Camusfeàrna, behind the low mass of littoral hills, I hear them first on the steep slopes of Skye across the Sound, a wild, haunting primordial sound. . . Often the approaching fall comes with a night frost and clear, sharp blue days, with the bracken turning red, the rowan berries already scarlet, and the ground hardening underfoot. . .

— Gavin Maxwell, Ring of Bright Water, 1960
Photo by Samuel Spicer