The Tangled Nest is still breathing! Sort of. Like an amphibian breathes through its permeable skin in a frozen pond. I am plotting the best ways to integrate this blog with my upcoming email letter Wander but since so many of you have been writing with kind, curious, generous questions (thank you!) I think a quick update is a good idea as the newsletter gets going.
BUT FIRST: I would be so grateful if you would subscribe to Wander! It will contain secret glimpses into my current writing projects, upcoming events, beautiful things I’ve discovered in the world, and ideas about crafting a creative, wild life that keeps us connected to the nature that surrounds us. I can’t wait to share it with you.
I hope you’ll sign up here or use the tab at the top of this blog. Letters will arrive in your inbox about once or twice a month, and unsubscribing is super-easy.
On to the Update! I’m afraid this will read like a Family Holiday letter—apologies for that, but here it goes, in no particular order:
The Tangled Nest is now also an Empty Nest, as my daughter is starting her second year of college. It’s all very joyful, heartbreaking, and confusing. I thought things might be easier—basic things like making dinner and writing books–but I find they are as tangled as ever. It’s hard hard hard, and I am learning about my depths as a human and a mother—things I never knew.
Surely because of this, I have been thinking a lot about the myth of Persephone and Demeter and the Life-Death-Life cycle, so much so that I have completely re-designed my post-death directives in some surprising ways. Cheery topic, I know. But creative, too, I think, and I’m excited about it—my family seems only a little bit horrified. I’ll tell you everything soon.
I spent much of the year promoting my newest book, Mozart’s Starling, which is now out in a beautiful new paperback. It was was called “a luminous wonder” in the pages of the New York Times by the incomparable Luis Ulberto Urea, and is nominated for a Washington Book Award alongside a few books by my dearest friends in the nonfiction category, which means the ceremony night (and the pre-func!) will be super-fun.
Remember my ginormous vegetable garden that I was completely obsessed with and nearly broke my back in creating? It was taken over by the shade of the growing trees surrounding our home. While making it impossible to grow a carrot, all this shade is turning our backyard into more of a sanctuary than ever (yes, I still sleep outside!). I am trying to evolve like a forest, planting native shade plants—ferns of all sorts, vanilla leaf, Cascade plum, salmonberry—I can’t wait to see how the things I planted this spring survive the winter. Besides, the big garden was starting to stress me out. Now I’ve planted a couple of wine oak barrels with cherry tomatoes and always-essential sunflowers in the brightest spot I could find, and we visit our year-round farmer’s market every week, where we know our local growers by name and support their sustaining work. And I feel gloriously calm every time I step out the back door.
I feel as if I’ve been all over the earth this year for book promotion, daughter college-delivery, various work gigs,
and general soul rejuvenation, including: the Hudson Valley, Jackson Hole, parts of Ohio, Joshua Tree, the Bay Area, San Antonio, and eastern Minnesota. I was the bird author theme host on a Pacific Northwest Cruise for the highly recommended Uncruise Adventures, which was super fun and filled with heavenly seabirds and the sweetest-ever humans (though I am thoroughly a terra firma girl I only got a teensy claustrophobic on the vessel, and did not puke once, which I consider a huge victory).
Oh dear, then there was the Met Cloisters in Upper Manhattan where I had a slight emotional breakdown in the central garden—the one surrounded by all the ancient pillars from France. But there was a lot going on in my life in that moment, and so much quiet herbal beauty! Surely it happens all the time? SO I am very much looking forward to my upcoming plan for Cloisters Visit v.2, during which I expect to behave much more normally, at least to the untrained eye. I will be wearing waterproof mascara just in case. Anyway—yes, Cloisters Breakdown. That happened.
I’ve been walking barefoot a lot—a lot a lot. More than ever. As much as I scrub, I fear my feet are perma-dirty. They are certainly well-calloused, which I do appreciate. I’m pretty sure it’s the way human feet are meant to be. And none of us need a new scientific study (of which there are several good ones) to tell us that walking with our feet upon the earth, especially in the woods, is among the most grounding and calming things we can do for our bodies and brains.
I am currently obsessed with: Natural Movement and the work of Katy Bowman; Lloyd Kahn (as ever), author of the iconic Shelter—everything he writes and blogs, always; Paul Stamets’s book Mycelium Running, and the intelligence of mushrooms; The Wilderness Awareness School’s Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, which IMHO is the best book of its kind; and the history of women nature mystics, particularly at this moment the little-known Blessed Christina the Astonishing, the young 13th century Belgian who was believed dead, sat up in her coffin to complain of the priests’ stench and flew to the rafters, then to a tree where she lived among birds (including a pelican, a bird who does not live in trees), refusing to come down ever again.
Our hens Ophelia, Ethel, Winnifred, and Pansy appear to be immortal and have long outlived their natural lives. Still, they lay eggs—not as many as when they were spring chickens, but plenty for us. We see it as a perfectly balanced relationship—we give them chicken food and snuggles, they give us eggs and snuggles.
I am still a committed diarist, and find that lines from the thoughts, story fragments, and secret poetry I write in my diary pages wander into my published books in the most unexpected of ways.
Oh, and who am I kidding? There is only one thing that everyone really wants to know: CARMEN the starling is five years old and flourishing! She is molting and looks absolutely horrid and our house is filled with feathers. I feel like I live in a down factory. Her celestial breast feathers are starry and new, but around her legs everything is sticking out like bloomers. She doesn’t seem to care in the least. She continues to learn new sounds and pesters us continually. We adore her.
THE LATEST ON STAYING IN TOUCH. My favorite social media by far is Instagram, so if you haven’t yet I do hope you’ll join me there: @lyandahaupt. I still put all my events and such on Facebook, so if you are interested in such things please follow my author’s page: Lyanda Lynn Haupt. I am not on Twitter.
But my most fun, personal contributions will all be on Wander. That’s where I’ll be sharing news of my latest writings, all events and offerings, and my wild philosophizings about living with grace and creativity on this beloved earth in such mystifying times. I truly hope you’ll subscribe, and if you know any kindred spirits who might enjoy it, send ‘em over. I will be so grateful.