Nature Writing Quotes

Quotes tagged as "nature-writing" (showing 1-30 of 60)
Edward Abbey
“The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante's paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.”
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

“On the first day of November last year, sacred to many religious calendars but especially the Celtic, I went for a walk among bare oaks and birch. Nothing much was going on. Scarlet sumac had passed and the bees were dead. The pond had slicked overnight into that shiny and deceptive glaze of delusion, first ice. It made me remember sakes and conjure a vision of myself skimming backward on one foot, the other extended; the arms become wings. Minnesota girls know that this is not a difficult maneuver if one's limber and practices even a little after school before the boys claim the rink for hockey. I think I can still do it - one thinks many foolish things when November's bright sun skips over the entrancing first freeze.

A flock of sparrows reels through the air looking more like a flying net than seventy conscious birds, a black veil thrown on the wind. When one sparrow dodges, the whole net swerves, dips: one mind. Am I part of anything like that?

Maybe not. The last few years of my life have been characterized by stripping away, one by one, loves and communities that sustain the soul. A young colleague, new to my English department, recently asked me who I hang around with at school. "Nobody," I had to say, feeling briefly ashamed. This solitude is one of the surprises of middle age, especially if one's youth has been rich in love and friendship and children. If you do your job right, children leave home; few communities can stand an individual's most pitiful, amateur truth telling. So the soul must stand in her own meager feathers and learn to fly - or simply take hopeful jumps into the wind.

In the Christian calendar, November 1 is the Feast of All Saints, a day honoring not only those who are known and recognized as enlightened souls, but more especially the unknowns, saints who walk beside us unrecognized down the millennia. In Buddhism, we honor the bodhisattvas - saints - who refuse enlightenment and return willingly to the wheel of karma to help other beings. Similarly, in Judaism, anonymous holy men pray the world from its well-merited destruction. We never know who is walking beside us, who is our spiritual teacher. That one - who annoys you so - pretends for a day that he's the one, your personal Obi Wan Kenobi. The first of November is a splendid, subversive holiday.

Imagine a hectic procession of revelers - the half-mad bag lady; a mumbling, scarred janitor whose ravaged face made the children turn away; the austere, unsmiling mother superior who seemed with great focus and clarity to do harm; a haunted music teacher, survivor of Auschwitz. I bring them before my mind's eye, these old firends of my soul, awakening to dance their day. Crazy saints; but who knows what was home in the heart? This is the feast of those who tried to take the path, so clumsily that no one knew or notice, the feast, indeed, of most of us.

It's an ugly woods, I was saying to myself, padding along a trail where other walkers had broken ground before me. And then I found an extraordinary bouquet. Someone had bound an offering of dry seed pods, yew, lyme grass, red berries, and brown fern and laid it on the path: "nothing special," as Buddhists say, meaning "everything." Gathered to formality, each dry stalk proclaimed a slant, an attitude, infinite shades of neutral.

All contemplative acts, silences, poems, honor the world this way. Brought together by the eye of love, a milkweed pod, a twig, allow us to see how things have been all along. A feast of being.”
Mary Rose O'Reilley, The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd

Annie Dillard
“I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you're going no matter how you live, cannot you part.”
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

Norman Maclean
“I knew that, when needed, mountains would move for me.”
Norman Maclean, Usfs 1919: Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky

Gretel Ehrlich
“The truest art I would strive for in any work would be to give the page the same qualities as earth: weather would land on it harshly, light would elucidate the most difficult truths; wind would sweep away obtuse padding. Finally, the lessons of impermanence taught me this: loss constitutes an odd kind of fullness; despair empties out into an unquenchable appetite for life.”
Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces

“And like any dog, like any savage, I lay there enjoying myself, harming no man, selling nothing, competing not at all, thinking no evil, smiled on by the sun, bent over by the trees, and softly folded in the arms of the earth.”
John Stewart Collis, The Wood

Amit Ray
“Enjoy the peace of Nature and declutter your inner world.”
Amit Ray, Mindfulness Living in the Moment - Living in the Breath

Alberto Caeiro
“Also at times, on the surface of streams,
Water?bubbles form
And grow and burst
And have no meaning at all
Except that they’re water?bubbles
Growing and bursting.”
Alberto Caeiro, The Keeper of Sheep

Joseph Chilton Pearce
“Our reality is influenced by our notions about reality, regardless of the nature of those notions”
Joseph Chilton Pearce, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg: New Constructs of Mind and Reality

Paul Doiron
“Nature will forgive humankind just about anything, and what it won’t forgive I hope never to witness.”
Paul Doiron, The Poacher's Son

Jim Harrison
“‎I wish Barry Lopez would write novels.

from "Conversations with Jim Harrison”
Jim Harrison

Amit Ray
“When the sunlight hit the trees, all the beauty and wonder come together. Soul unfolds its petals. Flowering and fruiting of plants starts. The birds song light up the spinal column and harmonize the hippocampal functioning.”
Amit Ray, Peace Bliss Beauty and Truth: Living with Positivity

Grey Owl
“We must remember that in the end nature does not belong to us, we belong to it.”
Grey Owl

Lynn Schooler
“In sum, it does not matter if we are forgotten; what matters is the effect we have on those around us and those who come after us. What matters is how our own lives affect the larger, perpetual community of the living.”
Lynn Schooler, Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart

“This landscape is animate: it moves, transposes, builds, proceeds, shifts, always going on, never coming back, and one can only retain it in vignettes, impressions caught in a flash, flipped through in succession, leaving a richness of images imprinted on a sunburned retina.”
Ann Zwinger, Downcanyon: A Naturalist Explores the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon

“The city (regardless which one it is) does provide a certain degree of sophistication and intellectualism. It offers the challenge of professional matters. It throws new and interesting people in one’s path. There is a dynamic and an energy in cities which is diametric to the life-forces of the forest.
Still the cabin is the wellspring, the source, the hub of my existence. It gives me tranquility, a closeness of nature and wildlife, good health and fitness, a sense of security, the opportunity for resourcefulness, reflection and creative thinking…..”
Anne LaBastille

“I pace the shallow sea, walking the time between, reflecting on the type of fossil I’d like to be. I guess I’d like my bones to be replaced by some vivid chert, a red ulna or radius, or maybe preserved as the track of some lug-soled creature locked in the sandstone- how did it walk, what did it eat, and did it love sunshine?”
Ann Zwinger, Downcanyon: A Naturalist Explores the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon

Henry Beston
“A year indoors is a journey along a paper calendar; a year in outer nature is the accomplishment of a tremendous ritual. To share in it, one must have a knowledge of the pilgrimages of the sun, and something of the natural sense of him and feeling for him which made even the most primitive people mark the summer limits of his advance and the last December ebb of his decline. All those Autumn weeks I have watched the great disk going south along the horizon of moorlands beyond the marsh, now sinking behind this field, now behind this leafless tree, now behind this sedgy hillock dappled with thin snow. We lose a great deal, I think, when we lose this sense and feeling for the sun. When all has been said, the adventure of the sun is the great natural drama by which we live, and not to have joy and awe of it, not to share in it, isw to close a dull door on nature’s sustaining and poetic spirit.”
Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod

Geoff Dyer
“...in Dillard it's the comedy of rapture. Or at least it's a comedy that permits prose and thought to soar while inoculating the rapturous against the three ills of which nature writers should live in permanent dread: preciousness, reverence, and earnestness...”
Geoff Dyer, The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New

“On any one day on Wy'East, one million living things lose their lives. They die, are killed, are shredded, fade out, are gulped, expire, decease, pass from this plane, cease to function, demise, commence decomposition, transition to the next stage, initiate cellular breakdown. This is the way it is. Some live a day, and some live a thousand years. Some are smaller than this comma, and some are taller than you can measure with your eye. Some are serence and eat sunlight and rain and do not slay theyir neighbors and do not battle for supremacy and sex and speak a patient green language. Others are vigorous and furious and muscular and speak the languages of blood and bone. This is the way it is...They change, they morph, they evolve, they go extinct, they sink back into the earth from which we all came and shall return. This is the way it is. It may be that every death is mourned, though most go unremarked, and every day's million deaths causes a million other hearts to sag. Who is to say that is not the way it is?”
Brian Doyle

“I'll tell you a story, far, far from here where blades of grass are fluent in sentient knowledge and trees are a mandala of prayer.”
Carolyn Riker, Blue Clouds: A Collection of Soul’s Creative Intelligence

“The question haunted me, and the real answer came, as answers often do, not in the canyon but at an unlikely time and in an unexpected place, flying over the canyon at thirty thousand feet on my way to be a grandmother. My mind on other things, intending only to glance out, the exquisite smallness and delicacy of the river took me completely by surprise. In the hazy light of early morning, the canyon lay shrouded, the river flecked with glints of silver, reduced to a thin line of memory, blurred by a sudden realization that clouded my vision. The astonishing sense of connection with that river and canyon caught me completely unaware, and in a breath I understood the intense, protective loyalty so many people feel for the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. It has to do with truth and beauty and love of this earth, the artifacts of a lifetime and the descant of a canyon wren at dawn.”
Ann Zwinger, Downcanyon: A Naturalist Explores the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon

“We sit on park benches and beaches and couches and hilltops, listening and dreaming seemingly to no particular purpose. But isn't it often the case that when we cease to move and think, we see and hear and understand a great deal?”
Brian Doyle

Anastasia Bolinder
“Nothing is as close to magic as nature.”
Anastasia Bolinder

“And we are wild animals too, of course. We forget that. We're just mammals with attitude. In a lot of ways our skills pale before their skills, and in a lot of ways we are terrible at fitting into our environmental niche. Why we achieved this dominance is sometimes a mystery to me, and a dangerous dominance it is too. The whole point of our evolution, it seems to me, is for us to find a way to fit back into the world as it is, rather than try to remake the world to fit us, but not everybody thinks like me”
Brian Doyle

John Hay
“This beach I voyage on leads me through the earth's immortal consistencies. Each form I encounter obeys the principles of perfection and trial, a timelessness in the making. The proportions of truth are at hand. Existence is celebrated in a splinter of driftwood, worn by wind-driven sand into the shape of an arrow. The onshore waves jostle each other, busy with their eternal changing, mixing crab shells, sand grains, and fish bones together. The trim little shorebirds feeding at the water's edge are acutely aware of one another, under the light and shadow leaning and drifting over all awareness. Wither own mysteries behind their beady eyes, their quick, advantageous movements, they follow the great, unifying sea." ~ John Hay. Bird of Light.”
John Hay, The Bird of Light

“He can climb anything lightning fast and is the king of the forest insofar as using the canopy as a highway. While his favorite food is voles, caught on the floors of forest and meadow, he much enjoys squirrels of all kinds and is the only hunter of squirrels who can follow them to the highest, thinnest branches; not even the fisher, eing heavier, can achieve that dangerous elevation. He eats everything else he can find, of course, but given his druthers, like today's late-summer bounty, he would have a vole for breakfast and then some thimbleberries and a cricket as a midmorning snack and then another vole for late lunch, followed by huckleberries in the afternoon, most of a dead White-crowned sparrow, some early white-oak acorns...and then, delightfully a young flying squirrel...”
Brian Doyle

“...sometimes it just sort of floods in on you that you survive by killing other creatures, and you get a little sad. An excellent point, said his dad. But at least you are sensitive to it. That's a step in the right direction...at least you have a certain respect and honesty about the system. That's good. That's a step toward reverence. Better that than the arrogant assumption that you can kill anything you like any time you like. That's the wrong direction. That direction leads to more killing. Trust me on this one.”
Brian Doyle

Lynn Schooler
“The image of my father's ashes drifting down into the clear water among the spawning salmon played across the screen of my mind. I counted off all the deaths I had seen, the tally of which remarked upon the fate of all living things, which is to be eaten, whether by whales, eagles, bears, or the microbes of the grave. But this is part and parcel of the continuation of life...the translation of bidies into more bodies, and life into life. The litter of shattered crab shell at my feet gave brilliant red testimony to how death becomes life, is necessary for life, and this being so, is beyond being labeled as good or bad.”
Lynn Schooler, The Blue Bear: A True Story of Friendship and Discovery in the Alaskan Wild

“You have the knowledge and ability to live sustainably on this planet but it's a hard road from where you are now. It's no longer a matter of what you know - you know enough. From here on, it's a test of whether you care - do you care enough?”
Mark Avery, A Message from Martha: The Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and Its Relevance Today

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