Friday, September 9, 2011

Tree Graveyard

It's been a busy month. I won't go into all of it here, but much has occurred in my personal life, all of it good. (Also, I am moving, and I'll tell you where soon. It will surprise you, I guarantee it.) Anyway, so that is why I have been on a bit of a blog absence for the past month, but hopefully that will change soon, when things are a bit more stable.

One of the wonderful things that has happened this month is that my brother Frank got YOSEMITE. (Congrats, Frank and Candice! You are wonderful!) So I got the chance to see natural wonders like this:

But today, I had the option of venturing into the park and looking at the beautiful woods and waterfalls and rocks...or staying out of the valley and hiking through what I've started to call "The Tree Graveyard." (Can you guess what I picked?)

I call it The Tree Graveyard because a controlled burn (which they do here to prevent widespread forest fires) got out of control almost a decade ago and burned a 20,000 acre stretch of land near the cabin my family is staying in. A large number of homes were lost as a result, and the landscape is just beginning to recover. What is left are clusters of sooty tree skeletons and black pires of tree trunks and dry brush.

What I realized as we were hiking through this area was that this disregard for what is obviously beautiful, and this fascination with what might be described as ugly or barren, that is connected to my desire to write. I think many writers would say the same thing. There is beauty in the Tree Graveyard, partly because of its visual characteristics, but partly because its existence is connected to a story.

This particular story is of destruction and renewal. And when you think about it, that theme is related to many compelling narratives, whether they're books or news stories or pieces of your own family history.

I've been thinking that, often, writing means not just staring ugliness in the face, but finding a way to embrace it.


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