Writing in the time of COVID-19: Day Sixty Eight

Some years ago, author Barry Lopez was exploring an Aboriginal settlement called Willowra in Australia’s Northern Territory. On one day, what he would come to describe as a day of illumination, he came to understand something about his life. “The experience delivered me into the central project of my adult life as a writer, which is to know and love what we have been given, and to urge others to do the same,” he writes. He doesn’t mean things. He doesn’t mean money. He means, of course, the gifts of Mother Nature, the gifts of Earth.

Barry wrote those words in the foreword to the new book, Earthly Love: Stories of Intimacy and Devotion published by Orion. It’s a lovely little book with a cloth red cover that fits nicely in the hand. It’s dedicated to a prolific writer, the late Brian Doyle. The first essay is by Pam Houston. She writes about mountains and love and finding love in the mountains—the mountains themselves.

So far, I’m realizing how uplifting these essays are, even in the face of some serious challenges our natural world is facing. The essays are a good antidote to the gray start to the day. These writers don’t just feel a connection with nature—mountains, outback, arctic, ocean—they have a relationship with nature. And I’m not being metaphorical. They are nourished by nature, advised by nature, comforted and loved by nature.

In the podcast Sugar Calling, author Cheryl Strayed interviews poet Joy Harjo. I listened to it yesterday; it’s my favorite conversation in the entire series. Joy talks about communicating with “The Council,” which she describes as her ancestors.

Some might turn to their god for love. Some might turn to nature. Others turn to ancestors. Me? I like the idea of chorus of advisors providing me guidance and bestowing their love upon me.

I hardly left the house today, busy with online workshops and teleconferences, so there isn’t much to share. However, there are two things.

One, I heard chittering in the bush outside my office window. The same kind of chittering I heard in the days before the White-rumped shama chicks fledged. Could it be mama and papa shama are working on a second clutch of eggs this season?

Two, I went to the post office and found a card from my favorite neighborhood bookseller, The Homer Book Store in Homer, Alaska. Inside was a generous gift certificate and note that said, “Wow. You have lovely friends.” So, thank you, my lovely friends. You know who you are. Your generosity is extraordinary and warms my heart. Plus, I’m super excited about the new books I will soon be adding to my life.

Of course, as is the way of The Homer Bookstore, they tuck in a pop-up card in all their deliveries, including this one. When I opened it, the quote inside was by Eileen Caddy and read, “Let there be more joy and laughter in your living.”

And, so, in closing, I offer you this double wish: May you know and love what we have been given; and may there be more joy and laughter in your living.

Plus, a bonus wish: May your life be rich with generous friends.


Hawaii added one new COVID-19 case to a new statewide total of 644.

Be well.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Anne C. says:

    Joy, laughter, and generous friends! And thank you for the book recommendation 😉 Gifts are all around us—all we have to do is notice them.


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      Yes, gifts everywhere! And thank you for your book recommendations, too. I’m super tempted by GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER. Have you started it?


      1. Anne C. says:

        I have, and I really enjoy the first voice. I gather each voice is distinct. That’s good writing, for sure.


  2. That little red book is right beside my bed! And I’ve signed up for that podcast – next walk for sure. Thanks, girlfriend.


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      Of course, you have that book! And you’re going to love the entire series of the podcast. In other words, you’ll be getting in loads of steps! Be well, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

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