Nature’s Creative Influence
By Melissa Crytzer Fry
When a peregrine falcon circled over my head during a jog this week, words began to swirl in my mind, matched only by the intensity of each hurried wing beat above me. I realized my writing topic was right before my eyes. Birds!
These feathered creatures play an unmistakable role in Rebecca’s upcoming debut, THE BIRD SISTERS, but they also symbolize what I feel can be a writer’s best creative inspiration: nature, the outdoors, unbridled open spaces, wildlife, fresh air.
There’s just something about nature and its ability to inspire – the way it can tug at your heart, leave you breathless, awestruck, and hungry for more. A simple walk in the park, a jog in the wilderness, or a glimpse out the window at the birdfeeder … For me, these brushes with nature somehow lead to a magical free flow of ideas, an ability to see more clearly, providing life lessons and writing inspiration – both freelance and fiction. All fodder for our novels.
The following excerpt documents an emotionally inspiring experience I had with a roadrunner pair that nested in our house-under-construction. I just happened to be outside when I heard the faint clack clacks of the first grounded fledgling:
I found myself caught in a dance of watch-and-see vs. stop-and-help. From the start, I wanted simply to observe nature, not interfere with it.
The hours passed as I regularly checked on Rocky’s whereabouts, my eyes constantly scanning and my ears tuned to his calling, though my physical presence hidden. Despite the loudest chirping Rocky could muster, his now waning attempts to reach his parents were in vain, despite their close proximity.
When dusk fell, my stomach knotted. I knew what lay outside the perimeter of our house: coyotes, owls, hawks, rattlesnakes, bobcats, gila monsters. Had I done the right thing by simply letting nature take its course?
Relief flooded over me the next morning at the sight of Rocky’s toes and tiny claws peeking from beneath the rocks where I left him. I realized, however, that something was terribly wrong. His feet were rigid, extended.
When my husband helped me gingerly lift the large rock off his tiny body, I was assaulted by guilt. I should have stepped in – with tweezers and fresh bugs, a warm makeshift bed. Surely he’d have let me feed him, if I had only done it.
With a warm washcloth, I picked up Rocky’s stretched body, his eyes closed, his feathers limp, but his chest still moving. He was clearly in for the fight of his life. As I tried to warm him, he attempted to lift his little head and made a faint squeak, giving me hope. All I needed were kissing bugs, longhorn beetles, harvester ants. They were in abundance on our property!
But as I sat with him in the sun, my tears fell freely, plunking onto his little body. I knew that I was too late. And when his body shuddered, that last little breath escaping from his beak, I knew I had a decision to make. Return him to nature? Give him a proper “human” burial?
My poor husband did not know how to console me as I sat sobbing with the precious gift that rested in my hands. At least, I reasoned, he hadn’t died alone. He had the warmth and comfort of another creature next to him in the end.
But even with the sadness wrapping its way around me, I still knew, in that moment, that I had witnessed something miraculous. I was a close-up observer to nature’s beauty and its cruelty, to the desert’s awe and its ire. I was privy to this little bird’s beginning, his parents’ devotion, their fatal mistakes.
I realized that this delicate dance between life and death that occurs in the desert every day – this fragility – is probably exactly the reason so few people have that rare opportunity that I was afforded. To see nature in its rawest form. To experience it with the heart.
As we contemplated what to do, we decided to stay true to our commitment as respectful observers of nature. Through wet eyes, we gave Rocky back to Arizona’s harsh Sonoran Desert, hoping his life might sustain other life.
Melissa Crytzer Fry is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist living out her writing dream in southern Arizona, among wildlife ranging from javelina, bobcats and quail to mountain lions, coyotes, tarantulas and Gila Monsters. She is the author of the What I Saw nature/writing/creativity blog (http://melissacrytzerfry.com), owner of AZCommPro Communications, and a fan and writer of women’s literature (currently chasing the publishing dream).