National Poetry Month: Writing Wild, Day 6

In 1870, Nan Shepherd’s ancestors were farming sheep in the highlands of northeast Scotland. One hundred or so miles away, on the other side of the Cairngorm Mountains, my great-great-grandparents were preparing to leave Inverness for the United States. Their son, John Stuart, eventually settled in the hills of western Connecticut, where he farmed until his death in 1955. I have lived on land that was once part of that farm, where cattle grazed and apple, quince and pear trees blossomed every spring, for the past 35 years. And although the connection is tenuous, I feel a deep affinity for Nan Shepherd and her love of the Cairngorms.

Shepherd wrote three novels and a volume of poetry before publishingThe Living Mountain. It is this book for which Shepherd is best remembered today. Maria Papova describes The Living Mountain as “a most unusual braiding of memoir, field notebook, and philosophical inquiry irradiated with the poetic.”

Choosing a form for today’s poem was a challenge, but in the end I opted for another Golden Shovel.

Previous Writing Wild posts:

Day 1: Dorothy Wordsworth
Day 2: Susan Fenimore Cooper
Day 3: Gene Stratton-Porter
Day 4: Mary Austin
Day 5: Vita Sackville-West

25 thoughts on “National Poetry Month: Writing Wild, Day 6

  1. Entering this golden shovel with a question is a really great technique. It mirrors the strike line and draws me right in. Those distant blue hills here in Virginia would love to see you 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is very cool the connection to the mountains and Scotland and your ancestors. Since I have lived in Lakeville and know NE Conn well and the Berkshire area, I wonder about your gr grandfather’s farm and the land you are describing. From Lakeville to Sharon there are fields where at dusk in the summer months I would see large herds of grazing deer. I pray it is not over-developed eventually. And in your poem, walking when nature is busy as well in the morning or at dawn or noon or any time in between, gives us the chance to reflect on the simpler times and lives brings peace, lets us connect and get away from the clutter of our daily lives surrounded as we are by wifi connectivity.

    I have a question about how you went to find her book to gather your striking line. Was it excerpted in Writing Wild? You are enticing me to purchase this book, Catherine. Did you ever read Midnight Fox, a MG chapbook? I liked it back in the day. I was thinking how lucky of you to spy the secret entrance to the den. There is a fox in my son’s neighborhood and our granddog loves to trick us into going out at night to catch a glimpse, though I never have. (I sound like those primary kids who have to tell you every connection but your poem brought so many thoughts to life for me!) Thank you.
    Janet Clare F.

    Liked by 1 person

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