Category Archives: Essay

Crossing Boundaries, Part One by Steven L. Peck

Steve and friend heading out

Every year an old friend and I undertake an adventure. H. and I are middle-aged now. Past our prime and youth when our adventures were bolder and more carefree. I can remember when we then, full of laughter, took his new pickup and rubbed its shiny sides against aspens for luck while searching out some secreted beaver dam in which to toss a fly. Now we fuss and fret. We worry endlessly about our kids and their kids and temper our exuberance with caution, having faced too many sorrows and misfortunes since. We are stressed and plagued with the press of the day to day, and we both in demeanor have that worn edge that cheese graters achieve when used on granite.

But once a year we become eighteen again. We plan a day and fashion ourselves into grand explorers and take to the environs of our youth. His wife drops us off on a dirt road. In pictures she took, we cut a pair of comical figures. Camelbacks, pants, and trekking poles make us look like a pair of amateur bird watchers more suited to a stroll along a paved parkway than two bold men (in our minds at least) out for rugged adventure. In one of the pictures, one of us points to the desert. It is a hint that today we are not taking to common trails. Continue reading Crossing Boundaries, Part One by Steven L. Peck

Time for Love of Nature, Nature of Love Month on WIZ

Valentines1-0124

For the second year, we’re making February “Love of Nature, Nature of Love” month on Wilderness Interface Zone.  To celebrate Valentine’s Day, all month long we’ll publish poetry, essays, blocks of fiction, art, music (mp3s), video or other media that address the subject of love while making references to nature.  Or it could go the other way around: We’ll publish work about nature that also happens to give a nod to love.  That presents a wide field of possibilities.  We’re seeking submissions of original work or you can also send favorite works by others that have entered public domain.  So if you have a sonnet you’ve written to someone dear to your heart–even and perhaps especially your dog–please consider sending it to WIZ.  See the submissions page in the navigation bar above.

Also, February 24th is WIZ’s birthday.  We’ll be two years old—a toddler now.  To celebrate, a couple of posts will offer presents to our readers.  Because without you, dear readers, where would we be?

There’s more than a slight hint of thaw in earth and air.  The light is growing longer.  The first waves  of the Canadian geese migration are rolling through the southern Utah county where I live.  Hen-and-chicks and stork’s bill are beginning to preen.  The coyotes are pairing off.  February is a good month to warm things up.  Got love?  Celebrate it here on WIZ.

Embrace the pure life, part three

Part one here.  Part two here.

Please, please, don’t be a litterbug.
Please, please, don’t be a litterbug.
Please, please, don’t be a litterbug
‘Cause every litter bit hurts.

In the 60s, a chorus of children’s voices sang this song during television and radio public service messages that were part of a national campaign against littering.   Even after decades of higher education and adult distractions, I remember not only the jingle’s words but also its tune.  I recall in detail, too, Richmond’s Own Snooty, a cartoon vacuum-cleaner creature who appeared on billboards along Virginia’s highways and admonished children and adults not to toss trash out the windows of their cars.

It was a simple message that worked.  There really is a lot less litter along roads, in parks, or sullying the landscape in general than there was when I was a kid. One reason is that, as part of the anti-litter campaign, more trashcans appeared on the land to collect cast-offs that people shed constantly.  Another reason: Signs sprang up beside highways informing would-be litterbugs of steep fines they’d pay for their slovenliness were they caught red-handed. Continue reading Embrace the pure life, part three

WIZ Kids: Our Very Own Toad Hall by Val K.

Fezzika

“Look, here’s Fezzika,” my mother said, bending down to point out the Woodhouse toad tucked under the garden stone. We had discovered the amphibian’s house a few days earlier, and I was fascinated by the placement choice. She had dug into the soil under a cornerstone edging the flowerbed beside the main path through the garden. The stone is flat, shaped a little like a boomerang, wide and bent in the middle, providing a convenient entrance and shelter. Continue reading WIZ Kids: Our Very Own Toad Hall by Val K.

WIZ kids: Call for nature writing by children

School’s out—at least for kids in my neighborhood.  In theory, this means they’re outside more, turning over rocks, taking pictures of what they find with their camera phones, using their iPhones to run a quick Internet critter identification search, engaging in texting one-upmanship (bgz r gr8), so on and so forth.

Okay, maybe they’re not doing it like that.  (But oh, what I could have and would have done with such technology in my wild child days!)  In fact, maybe they’re not going out into the Mystery much at all, if Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods gives an accurate account of how children and nature have fallen out of love.  But there must be some kids still getting out there, developing lightning-fast reflexes from chasing lizards, solving the whole-body puzzle of climbing a tree, honing their future driving skills by walking on logs across creeks, etc.

It’s in the hope that nature children still exist somewhere that Wilderness Interface Zone is issuing a call for nature poems and short essays written by children.  The works may address any aspect of nature and the child’s relationship to it.  Poems should be 50 lines or under and essays 150-1000 words.  If you have a budding nature photojournalist in your family, we will consider posting his or her photos.  Children ages 6-18 are invited to submit work to pk.wizadmin@gmail.com from July 6, 2010 to July 31, 2010.  Depending on how many submissions we get, we’ll post them in batches off and on July-August.  Parents and kids: Please review submission guidelines here before submitting.

Thanks to WIZ’s People Month Participants

My happy thanks to everyone who participated in WIZ’s People Month.  My list of folks for whom I’ve felt deeply grateful includes:

Th.
Nephi Anderson (via Th.’s gravelly voice)
Mark Bennion
Tyler Chadwick
greenfrog
green mormon architect
Elizabeth R.

And, of course, many thanks to WIZ’s loyal readers and commenters.

I appreciate each writer’s help keeping People Month on WIZ interesting and fun.  We’ll do it again next year (maybe earlier), so start drawing up your People Month writing plans now.

Guest post by green mormon architect: 8.3 Million

As the bus exits the Lincoln tunnel and enters Manhattan, I strain my neck to look out the window at the buildings towering over me in the narrow corridor called a street.  I am overwhelmed with awe at the beauty and majesty of this new environment.  I can hear, feel and smell the city breathing with both life and decay.  Steam coming out of the asphalt.  Music coming out of a church.  Rotten food coming out of buildings.  Light coming out of windows.  People walking everywhere.  I am a foreigner here.  Where can I find shelter, or a drink of water?  Where do I push my stick into the landscape, like Brigham, and say this is where I will begin?

I decide to explore this living organism called a city.  Much more seems to be going on here than is visible on the surface.  The landscape before me is teeming with life like a tree, with roots extending deep into the earth and branches soaring into the sky.  Lightning and water flow hidden through arteries giving life to all.  Burrowing under the city’s skin I enter one of the arteries called a subway.  Here I am transported to another time.  As I emerge, not knowing what to expect, my eyes take time to adjust to the changed scene before me.  A person reeking of urine and dressed in rags asks for money.  I get a sandwich from a guy at a deli.  Someone follows me calling out that he knows me, but I’ve never seen him before.  This part of the city is old.  The scale of all I see is different.  Ground Zero lies in ruins.  People around me share where they were when it happened.  There is a wall lining an entire street with flowers and graffiti-like markings.  One of the scrawlings says, “I sat in silence watching.”  Why are all these people here?

By chance I run into a friend from high school.  I don’t know what to say to him.  He doesn’t say anything, so we pass each other on a piece of concrete called a sidewalk.  How do I make my mark?  How do I make a difference?  I run into a friend from college.  He lives here now.  We talk as though we were not in a foreign place.  I forget that I am the foreigner.

An obsession begins to develop towards this strange wilderness.  I feel at home for the first time in my life even though I am alone.  But I’m not alone.  This vast landscape is layered with people, surfaces, textures, and materials that combine infinitely to provide me the community, music, crime, art, filth, food, and beauty that I need.  Every stranger I pass on the street helps contribute to make each of these parts of my life here possible.   Again I burrow into the city’s skin.

I emerge reborn, now a child of the city, confident.  I am ready to begin.  I know where in the landscape to place my stick.  I enter a box called an elevator and fly upwards, unseen, as high as is humanly possible, to the top of an Empire.  Here I stand on stones carved out of the earth by human hands.  These stones suspended 1250 feet above the street allow me to see the grandest achievements of Humanity.  It is February 14th at midnight.  Sleepless in Seattle comes to mind.  Except my love is not coming for me.  My love is already here, all 8.3 million of them.

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Jonathan is an architect and blogger who loves talking about sustainability, the environment, buildings, and cities.  He has worked in Orlando, San Francisco, Portland, and now Salt Lake where he is approaching one year in Utah working for the LDS Church.  He blogs at green mormon architect and salt lake architecture and is looking forward to a return trip to New York next month.

Into freedom: An essay by Elizabeth R.

Elizabeth is a 12-year-old girl who loves to write. Her favorite genre is fantasy. She loves riding around on her scooter, and this is one of the ways she gets her inspiration.

I sit at my computer desk with a blank document in front of me. I gaze out the window at the never-ending rain. I yearn for the sunlight that time forgot.

I have no ideas for stories. My mind wanders on other subjects that connect with the real world I live in every day.
 
Wait! There still is a small bit of hope. A hope that is so small, I never see it. I must search diligently for it. I must ease out of the fears, out of the worries, out of the fast and the slow lane. I must stop.
 
I picture myself in a grassy field. The sun shines warm on my face, I hear a bird singing, and the whole field is filled with a tingling sensation that I long for.
 
I somehow have a desire to run. But I am growing up, I think to myself. I have no time for such childish little games.
 
However, my legs are moving.
 
Go ahead, a voice inside my head says, go ahead and let yourself fly. Set me free.
 
My fingers now dance over to the keyboard. I type, slowly at first, but soon I am going faster and faster on the keyboard.
 
I begin to fast-walk in the field. Soon I am jogging. Then I start going at a full-out run. My heart skips, and my fingers pause…
 
Suddenly, I leap into the air and fly. Fly like I mean it! I fly, and nothing else matters to me.
 
My fingers are now dancing, flying with the story. Flying with my heart, and my soul…
 
Finally, I land ever so gracefully and softly. I walk for a little, and then find myself at my computer again.
 
I look out the window to see the sun peeking over a cloud, and the thunderheads moving away.
 
This is my chance! This is the opportunity I have been waiting for! I leap up and throw on some shoes, running outside and into the fresh air.
 
Into freedom.

Communion with the small: An essay by Theric Jepson

Theric Jepson is best known in Mormon blogging for his Motley Vision post on Mormon comics. That and his other Motley Vision work are listed at http://www.motleyvision.org/about-theric-jepson/ along with essays and short stories hosted at other sites. He is the editor of that Fob Bible thing that all the cool kids are talking about. His online presence is best summed up by listing thmazing.com, thmazing.blogspot.com and twitter.com/thmazing. His poemMorning Walk, Spring 2009” was published here in March; it and this essay together sum up Theric’s daily natural philosophy: We are part of nature and nature is part of God and both nature and God should be part of our everyday lives. Even living as he does now in California’s East Bay, Theric will pause to watch a squirrel or listen to a bird. He is particularly curious as to why deer are commonly seen three blocks from his house yet never in his neighborhood, and how in the world so many raccoons can fit into a single sewer drain.

 

Why do we cityfolk so often imagine it necessary to leave the paved world to enjoy the natural world? I can remember one Sunday at Brigham Young University, walking from campus back to my apartment along the south border of a parking lot, just looking at the bushes. Some still had leaves, others were bare. Some had berries. One of the berried demanded my attention: each of this bush’s berries had three leaves growing in to and out of the berry. Perhaps they had once been petals from the flower? I don’t know, but it was new and fascinating and question-generating.

A neighboring bush was already naked of leaves in preparation for the coming winter, but the younger branches were covered in a soft, pleasant fuzz. The closer to the main trunk, the more likely a branch was to be bare, but those further afield had their own fur coats. Was this for winter protection? Was the fuzz there year round? Continue reading Communion with the small: An essay by Theric Jepson