Admittedly summer always throws me off schedule. I forgot that last year in the midst of the “summer that wasn’t” due to the restrictions of Covid-19, our planned trip to Germany had to be cancelled and there was little to do until we discovered the beach in August, where we went once a week, which at least provided a mini respite from the sameness of it all.
The upside of that summer was that I was much more productive, or at least that’s how I remember it. This summer though, I seem to have fallen into the natural summer rhythm of spontaneity verging on chaos.
We managed to have a one week socially distanced family cabin vacation up in the Muskokas. Bliss: swimming, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, even one session of archery. Not only that, but I was able to read like I haven’t read in a long time on rainy days. Alas, I lost that momentum when I returned home, due to a series of unexpected visits. Not that I am complaining, but the dizzying speed of reentry change sometimes has my head spinning.
Now on to how I did with my revamped resolutions.
Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.
I read “The Global Forest: 40 Ways Trees Can Save Us” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger. See the next category for a description.
Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.
“The Global Forest: 40 Ways Trees Can Save Us” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger.
I don’t think that the title is accurate—more like “40 Ways Trees Play a Part in Our Lives” or something similar—but certainly the book is bursting with fascinating tree facts and stories. I read the book in short bursts, two chapters a day, following the pattern I used in the 100 day challenge. It works!
“…most trees are not naturally solitary. They are community dwellers. The community for the tree is the forest. Inside the forest all mother trees get the greatest protection possible.”
“The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature” by Sue Stuart-Smith
I read this as part of a book study with one of my critique partners. Well researched and well written, the book is a delight to read. So many benefits of gardening and nature including even the use of them in trenches during WWI. Who knew?
“It is one thing for gardens to provide respite from war but quite another to create them in the very midst of it. Yet this is what happened during the long, drawn-out fighting on the Western Front. Pretty flowers may seem trivial when shells are dropping all around, but in that landscape of utmost devastation, the beauty of nature especially of flowers, provided a psychological lifeline in a way that nothing else could.”
I see parallels to this in these Covid-19 times, with there being an uptick in interest in gardening.
Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.
“H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald
I tried to read this before, but I never did finish it despite its luscious language. This time I took it slowly, reading about 5 chapters per week and then discussing them with my book club partner, and I am really glad that I did it that way. I think the book is meant to be savoured, lingering over the descriptions.
After her father passes away, Macdonald trains a goshawk. She intersperses her experiences with that of T.H. White, who also wrote a book about training a goshawk.
So much to love in this book, but I’ll leave you with this quote:
“Of all the lessons I’ve learned in my months with Mabel this is the greatest of all: that there is a world of things out there—rocks and trees and stones and grass and all the things that crawl and run and fly. They are all things in themselves, but we make them sensible to us by giving them meanings that shore up our own views of the world. In my time with Mabel I’ve learned how you feel more human once you have known, even in your own imagination, what it is like to be not.”
Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.
I didn’t do it every day, but I did work on my writing here and there. I did a lot of planning for my novel I am working on too.
Read related literature to my writing. (I need to figure out an actual number.)
No, I didn’t do this.
Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month.
These are the two that I analyzed:
“The fashion industry’s ‘plus size’ label shames women to fit an unhealthy standard” by Laura Sang
What I liked:
-a doctor who treats eating disorders uses her own experience in having to wear plus sized clothes due to Covid weight gain to talk about the damage the fashion industry is doing
-a call to action, eye opening
“How does a book addict part with his collection?” by Arthur Chapman
-intersperses personal experience with general experience
Overall, I enjoyed both, but nothing stood out for me.
Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.
These are the two that I analyzed:
“Wanted! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom” by Heather Tekavec; illustrated by Susan Batori
-I love the structure of this very humorous picture book; it makes it memorable. (Wanted for; criminal activity; rap sheet; FYI)
-Good beginning: “Creatures all over the world are turning to a life of crime, chaos and corruption.”
-Everybody gets a cool, catchy name: Ms. Jagged Jaws, Copy Cat, Big Bad Mama
“Ocean Speaks” by Jess Keating; illustrated by Katie Hickey
What I like about it:
-First page grabs you right away: “The beach was a blanket of squishy, soft sand, and Marie wanted to feel it under her feet.”
-Length of sentences:
“The ocean stretched out before her, like a big blue mystery.”
“The waves were talking to her, whooshing up to her toes and sighing away again.”
-The power of threes: “forests and farmhouses, boulders and bird calls, wheat fields and waterfalls”
-Plenty of alliteration: “plotting every point on paper”
Submit one story to a contest per season.
I have already done this.
Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)
Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)
As a challenge from the library, I signed up for a course at LinkedIn Learning. It turned out to be facilitated by the writer of one of my favourite craft books, which is “Wired for Story”. Sweet!
Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)
I met most weeks, but not every week.
Blog at least twice a month.
I wrote two.
100 day challenge:
Read two chapters of a book a day.
How’s your summer been going? Do you feel like it’s been more like a “normal” summer? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment.
Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler
Your summer has had some great highlights – as has your reading. Will check out those PBs – good analysis.