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Shaped by Wind & Water: Reflections of a Naturalist

by Ann Haymond Zwinger

My aunt and uncle in Flagstaff sent this book. I knew I’d like it by the second page, when I read, “Many women I know live the same kind of life, predicated on interruption, that I do–the push-me/pull-me dance of balancing family life and professional life: keeping in touch with family, doing another wash, marketing and cooking, juggling overlapping schedules, and getting done what needs to be done…When I began writing, I often railed against the unnecessary and incessant stoppages that clotted my day. Writing…is not something one can pick up and put down easily. Fieldwork and research and putting it together as natural history writing is, of necessity, time consuming…I have never had the luxury of a set schedule and blocks of time to write…I’ve learned to trust my mind’s ability to work on its own, to explore ideas and mentally file and order them while I make a chocolate roll or sew on a button. I do know that blocks of time are necessary for many of the tasks of writing; I appreciate them when I have them and yearn for more. But I also could be persuaded that in a life of unavoidable interruptions there might be some hidden blessings: when I finally do have the chance to work, my mind immediately focuses in and expands my moment in sunshine. The self-indulgence of “writer’s block” is a luxury that never wrote an essay and, interestingly enough, something I seldom hear women writers complain about.”