Tumamoc Hill Nature Writing Workshop Nov. 15-17, 2019

Olivia Carey (C3), Deb Huie (C1), Penny Miller (C2) and Michelle Kostuk (C1), attended the ‘Nature Journaling: Learn the art of seeing and recording the world around you’ workshop at the Desert Laboratory up on Tumamoc Hill, November 15-17, 2019.  The instructor was Roseann Hanson with guest instructor Paul Mirocha.  Deb and Olivia have providing writing samples from this workshop.  Please see their writings after Olivia’s  write-up on her experience.

I took both workshops – sketching in Nov and writing in Dec.  The Hansons are excellent instructors as well as amazing naturalists and authors.  For me the sketching was more fun, mainly because when I try to write, I tend to get impatient with all those words!  Drawing, on the other hand, is more natural and more relaxing, a meditation.  Both workshops really helped me with focusing on and seeing things deeply and how to practice “intentional curiosity”.  The sketching class included good info on materials and tools that are inexpensive and easy to use in the field.  RoseAnn explained about using archival paper and ink for journals that will endure.  Jonathan brought examples of “good” and “bad” nature writing that I found super helpful.  I came away inspired to use more words in my journals, and challenged to explore my ideas from multiple angles.  These workshops are great for anyone wanting to learn about nature journaling at any level – beginner or experienced.  (And they are approved for advanced skills training credit!)

The sketching class is being offered again in the spring at Tohono Chul.


Please see below for my “dense prose” piece.  The blog post picture is an ink sketch from my journal.  PCMN has my permission to reproduce without restrictions.

Olivia Carey
Sunday, 15 December 2019
Workshop exercise: Writing the Lives of the Sonoran Desert at the UA Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill

The slender silver-grey line ends in a clean point, so delicate and fragile, almost innocent. It joins with dozens of its brothers and they surround the tough, flexible stem, creating a phalanx of spear points. For now, in the rainy season, each spine has a feathery garland of tiny leaves, so the menace is disguised, and the branch appears plush and inviting.

The unsuspecting visitor reaches out to stroke the soft foliage. He jerks back quickly. He cries out in pain. He curses. Muttering and nursing his wounded finger, he retreats down the trail, now thoroughly convinced that everything in this strange, arid land is hostile to human occupation.

The visitor is gone. The ocotillo remains, oblivious to the comings and goings of humans. Her long, elegant branches stretch up into the blue ocean of sky and out to the drifting breeze. Within days, she will encase her fingers in garnet and ruby blossoms.
If she were aware, would she note the visitor’s pain, his instant dismissal of her potential? Would she want him to stay a little longer? Would she plead with him to look again to see her at her finest?

Writing the Lives of the Sonoron Desert Workshop
Writing Assignment: Luminous Mother of Tumamoc
By: Deborah Huie

Anchoring souls like mooring vessels to a buoy, Luminous Mother is protector and patroness of Tumamoc Hill. Laden with rosaries she stands centered, sentinel to all things celestial and terrestrial.

She watches over her fellowship. Holding space and accepting the tokens, prayers, grief bestowed upon her. Their walk up the hill now a pilgrimage. Humans need places like this. Hills, shrines which exist in nature and allow us to unburden ourselves and move freely, unencumbered

Luminous Mother, divine guardian, is everyone’s mother. Earth Mother, Virgin of Guadalupe, Virgin Mary, Madonna, Black Madonna, Chomolungma. A creator of beings performing her duty as benevolent protector of her children. Taking on their suffering so they don’t have to bear the burden.

Her devotees amass receiving spiritual sustenance from her. They are fiercely attached to the gatekeeper of Tumamoc, mingling in sacred space sharing borders, knowing their need for her primordial.

Anchoring souls and gathering burdensr3

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