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Write Now

Writing In-Between

A red-shouldered hawk swooped toward my window. I was about to duck when he flashed up, showing me the underside of his strong red breast and wide wingspan. Elegant precision.

Living up in the hills, I feel a special connection with birds. Fat chickadees in the treetops outside my window flit and squeak. House finches, goldfinches, sparrows, and wrens carry seeds and songs on the wind. Green- and red-throated hummingbirds hover and whir like tiny helicopters. Doves coo from rooftops in the morning, and owls from treetops at night. The Stellar jays let me know whenever a cat happens to stray through. This past Spring, a fat robin built a nest on the ledge over my back patio and I let the vines go without trimming late into summer.

If we want to write about nature, we have to know it. If we write about city life, we need to roam the streets. Focus on the sensuality of it all—whether it’s a restaurant or a refuse disposal—take it in. Pay attention to details—that mosquito buzzing, landing, stinging; the motorcycle blaring against the quiet of the evening; the hearty aroma from the neighbor’s grill. As I walk to the hiking trail down the road, I don’t wear headphones. I want to focus on the sights and sounds and smells around me. Take it in, write it down, save it for when I’ll need it. And sometimes I find a new story altogether.

But now those songbirds are calling from the backyard. Time to refill the birdbath.
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