Dip Your Toes In

The islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are full of beauty and wonder. Tuckernuck and Muskeget (the islands that make up Nantucket), along with the Vineyard were formed hundreds of thousands of years ago by massive glaciers. They deposited silt and clay sediment at the peak of their growth, then the huge pieces of ice receded,  leaving behind what my family and I call our home today. I often ask myself whether I would have enjoyed writing so much if I had lived someplace else, where the stores stay open past five o clock and there is a little more to do besides write in my journal or read a good story.

Living on a little rock in the middle of the ocean made my life as a child somewhat boring. With no laser tag or McDonalds, what was I supposed to occupy my time with? I soon realized that the lack of video games and other childhood commodities that I experienced in my youth largely contributed to my creativity and my interest in writing. More importantly, with not as many “mainland” commodities, I learned to enjoy the little things that much more. I took advantage of the many acres of state forest that lay behind my house. As I walked my golden retriever through the evergreens and black oaks, I slowly began to form a realization in my mind: I didn’t need anything more than what I had.

This life of simplicity contributed to my writing greatly. I grew to love nature and respect it for what it was—all encompassing. After my sister and I were born, my father used his lawn mower and a pair of brush-shears to carve into the scrubby maple undergrowth and make walking paths. These winding trails gave me the ability to immerse myself in nature whenever I wanted to. When my father asked us who would take the dog for a walk, I was always the first to throw my hand in the air and yell “I will!” I was an adventurous little kid. My friends and I would play imaginary games with sticks as our swords and trees as our castles. My mind swelled with all of this fun and creativity. The seemingly endless trails that my father made became my own world where I could exist as whatever I wanted.

As I grew older, the days of wandering through the forest with a lichen covered sword in my hand began to seem distant. I would often reminisce of the days when my mind could wander freely. I had to find some way to get that feeling of freedom back. It wasn’t until my twelfth birthday, when I tore open a small rectangular present, that my imagination was again ignited into an even stronger blaze. Inside the glossy wrapping was a brightly colored book. At first glance, I figured this would be a short novel of either fiction or Sci-Fi. After opening up the magnetic clasp, I was surprised to find the pages completely empty! What was I supposed to do with this blank book? It seemed silly at the time and my first inclination was to stuff it at the back of my bookcase for it never to see the light of day. My mom explained to me “it’s a journal for you to write in.” Looking back, I am glad she encouraged me to explore my interests and utilize my creativity.

As I grew into a young man, I began to broaden my literary scope with Mill, Thoreau, Emerson and the like. A whole new way of thinking became available to me. I started to see nature as not just an essential aspect of life, but really the central reference to how I should live my own life. Today, with the natural world in a state of endangerment, I find it that much more important to write. My beautiful island; the place that inspires me to write about sandy beaches and sprawling forests seems more impermanent with every passing day. Almost a foot of shoreline is being stolen by tropical storms and nor’ easter’s every year, and the rate of erosion is growing dramatically. I have decided that I will write about my home in order preserve the incredible landscapes that are unique to it.

Everyone feels an innate connection with the place that they were born. That particular theme can be seen in multiple of the texts we have been exploring including Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms and Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge: An Unnatural History. In these books, the idea of home is seen as meditative and spiritual. Home is where people feel the closest to their family and their past experiences. Whenever I drive off the ferry and the treads of my tires touch the pavement, I immediately feel the presence of all my friends and family that have also given me the inspiration to write. The phrase “home is where the heart is” rings true for me in more ways than one. My heart and soul will always belong to the place I was raised, and the place I was raised will always belong to me. I will continue to write about my tiny island long after the mighty Atlantic has swallowed it up.

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