Warm greetings from my little corner of West Virginia!
Have you gotten any snow yet? We've had only a few days of snow this winter, but I'm savoring every little snowflake. I've even gone cross-country skiing twice on less than an inch of snow… it's basically just hiking while sliding ever so slightly with each step, but I'll take it!
I've been a bit quiet online lately because my book's manuscript and art deadline is just three months away and I've been working hard to bring this big, wonderful, messy monstrosity of a project in for a landing. The finish line still feels like a long way off and I simultaneously can't wait to send it off and never want it to end. In an interview I listened to last week with one of my favorite authors, Barry Lopez, he said that as a writer “if you’re not intimidated by what it is that you’re trying to do, you’re not going to be very good at it. Fear is a great driver.”
I certainly feel intimidated by this book project, but I guess that's a good thing. And the nice thing about the deadline being around the corner is that there's less time for self-doubt! I just have to show up each day and make a few strides forward. One thing I know for sure is that I've grown leaps and bounds as an artist, naturalist and writer throughout this process.
Above: A very fluffy red-shouldered hawk
On Monday, we got a weird, heavy snowfall that lasted for only a few hours before it melted. I took advantage by doing a little morning birding at nearby Cross Creek County Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I'm very much an amateur birder, having only really started to pay attention to them in the last few years. But this winter more than ever before, my eyes have been fixed on the treetops and skies in search of new feathered friends. I had fun sharing some birdy thoughts during my walk for my most recent vlog.
A Few of my Favorite ThingsJust for fun, here are a few things that have been making me happy during my winter hibernation. Maybe you'll enjoy them too!
PodcastsMy old standbys are This American Life, Creative Pep Talk and The Moth, but lately I've also been enjoying The American Birding Podcast and BBC's Short Cuts.
FilmsKing Coal: my sister was actually an associate producer on this film, which premiered this week at Sundance Film Festival! This is a surreal, poetic documentary that tells the story of a coal-miner's daughter in West Virginia as she grapples with the legacy of coal mining and dreams up a new path forward. It'll be screening at independent theaters throughout Appalachia in the coming months, so stay tuned by following the film on social media.
The Swimmers: a gorgeous film (on Netflix!) that chronicles the true story of two Syrian sisters on their journey to safety during the Syrian war while simultaneously vying for a spot on the Olympic swim team.
Border Crossings: a GORGEOUS graphic novel/travel memoir of the author's month-long journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
In Waves: another beautiful graphic novel. This story follows the author's grief and path forward when he loses his girlfriend to illness. A secondary story woven in throughout shares the history of sport surfing and its role in Hawaiian culture.
Stay warm and well out there!