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“The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order the continuous thread of revelation.”
- Eudora Welty
Have you ever come to a moment in your life when you find that some of life’s seemingly unrelated threads actually weave together into a pattern that makes sense? As a kid I grew up devouring books. I credit my sister for instilling the love of a good story - she would concoct her own “choose your own” adventure tales as we lay in bed at night. I also grew up with the Blue Ridge Mountains as my backyard and my family would often go on camping trips. Whether it registered then or not, I always had access to the outdoors. A love of words, a curiosity to create, and the beauty of nature impressing upon me its phenomenons have all been silent milestones for the launch of “The Wild Wonders of Alabama,” the first of a new book series that focuses on America’s amazing wild places.
“If memories change the pathways of the brain, then the trail must still be there. It's just a matter of waiting for the wild things to emerge out of the understory.”
- Richard Powers, The Overstory
An avid hiker, I love the outdoors, marveling at its ever changing beauty, and respecting its often formidable terrain and changing weather. But it has only recently occurred to me that my experience of nature is fundamentally different than others that I know. Whereas when I walk through a forest and see green leaves and brown bark, they see sugar maple, sassafras and eastern white pine. As a visual designer, I liken their intimate understanding of nature to how I can’t walk down a busy city street or open a magazine without dissecting visual messages for their use of layout, fonts and color. When it comes to the natural world, I am half-blind to the larger system at play. It isn’t that I need to know all the names of trees to make sense of nature, but it’s the realization that I lack an awareness of what I’m really seeing. The true beauty of nature is comprehending our humble place among the millions of interactions of minerals, seeds, and spores that cause things to bloom, decay, and erode - all in a landscape that took billions of years to form.
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“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
- Henry David Thoreau
I have teamed up with a knowledgeable ecologist who does walk the woods knowing the names of trees. Together, we hope this project will spark the curiosity of young readers to learn more about the natural world at an early age, so that they can aim for more sustainable ways of living. It would be our hope they would walk the understory and really, truly see the wonder around them. While nature doesn’t have borders, there is a sense of pride in the places we are from or where we choose to call home, which is why we're going state by state. We hope you’ll join us on this wild and wonderful journey in discovering America’s unique natural heritage.