from The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney


She loved the case she was sitting in front of now: Wrens, Nuthatches, Creepers, Titmice, Mimic Thrushes, Jays and Crows. She wished she knew what a mimic thrush mimicked and whether titmice ate mice. She supposed she could Google, but she preferred to wonder. p 126

To My Dear Self,

Happy Spring. We made it! Even though it snowed several inches yesterday it is technically spring. And today, as predicted, the sun is shining and it’s all but melted. The green is slowly starting to overtake the brown on the lawn and the daffodils have shed their white powdery cloaks.

I mention these specific things for a reason. I know you. You truly look forward to the end of winter and all of the harbingers of the new season. Yes, there are markers like holidays and the annual booksale—this year marks your 16th—but most of your tell-tale signs are rooted in the natural world. The way the light spills in the window while you are eeking out a few extra moments in bed, the birds that greet you in the morning and the rousing peeper chorus at night. Those birds they are a welcome sight, you are so glad they journeyed back. It would be nice to be able to identify some of the ones you see and hear, but don’t get bogged down in it. If you even think about signing up for another class, then you’ll never get anything done. Maybe just let yourself enjoy them purely on a wonder level. Sometimes research just takes the magic out of the equation and don’t you have enough of that in your life?

Did you see? The rhubarb is peeking through, which brings to mind muffins, compote and galette—that one you love with the toasted walnuts in the crust. Make sure you save some for sorbet. There are chicks at the post office most days and the buds and starting to appear on the trees. If you squint sideways you can catch a pinkish hue to some of the trees that you pass on the way to work.

Some of these trees are the ones you look for each morning when you drive your regular route in. Hooray for the 7 minute commute. Sometimes you wave to certain ones, there’s no shame in it. You are a person who feels a deep connection to your surroundings, you long for the natural and the familiar. This letter is to remind you of those points. Once you step away and leave your desk (remember that Mary Oliver quote you have pinned up, or has it been there so long you look through it now? You put it there to remind yourself to get up and get out.) Every time you step outside with an intention to slough off your busyness you smile. Without fail. And when you bring your camera you always capture some interesting image. It doesn’t have to be gallery or magazine worthy, it just has to be you putting the lens to your eye and zeroing in on what you see. When you start, the rest will follow.

The same is true with your writing. You can procrastinate, you can bluster and fuss; but when you sit down, even thinking your just going to do it for five minutes, you loosen the floodgates and enjoy the process. Who cares about wordcount or grammar? Just do it. Be inspired by what’s going on around you. Honestly, it truly is a miracle the way those shoots poke through the hardpacked earth, the way they reach for the sun and finally blossom.

I don’t think I need to spell that out for you, you are a whiz with metaphors and analogies. No real reason to hit you over the head… I would have thought you would have learned your lesson by now, but sometimes you are a slow-learner. The cure for what ails you is right outside your door. But maybe some tough love is in order. In the words of Mary Oliver: ‘Get up and leave your desk.’

And some maybe Rachel Carson thrown in for good measure: ‘The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.’

See you next week, dear one. xoxox


3 thoughts on “from The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

  1. Thanks for this! I stopped writing cause i was piled under a whole bunch of uni work in my last year! This article helped me to finally write a page or two in my notebook before i put them up online 🙂

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