The past several days I’ve spent in the sunny southwest. The desert is alive with color and since spring was just last week, I found the timing of my visit very appropriate. While in Phoenix, I saw roses and multiple other types of flowers. Traveling to Tucson, cactus flowers, primrose and other colorful vegetation greeted my friend and I as we walked the trails of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. I took endless photos and basked in the beauty that welcomed us.
Beauty was not just in the plant life, but in the animals we saw: captive ones to educate the public about the fauna of the region, and wild ones, like lizards and songbirds, that make the desert their home. I was excited to see otters, herons, and desert bighorn that could not be released in the wild due to injuries but that could still educate people living in and not living in Arizona about their habits and habitats, and I was even more excited to see the wild ones that just “appeared” to reflect their adaptations to the environment. I love seeing and learning about the flora and fauna of a region I visit – there is beauty in nature and in learning about it.
There is also beauty in the relationships we share with others. My friends Doug and his family gave me their time, gas, and food as we shared about three days together. We reflected upon the past – the years we’ve known one another, their years of marriage, their kids’ education; upon the present – what we’re all doing now, our concerns and our joys, and the connection we maintain; and about the future – what their kids want to become as adults, my friends’ future vacation and retirement plans, our aging parents and our aging selves. Nature and friendship – two of the most beautiful things we experience in life!
As writers we can create beauty as well. Our characters have relationships with other characters (past, present, future) and sometimes writers weave nature into stories, showcasing the beauty (and sometimes danger) our characters experience. In Sage’s Big Adventure, blind dog Sage becomes lost in the woods (something that actually happened to my real blind dog Sage). The dog’s strong relationship with her people help her return home to them. I’ve seen that and read about that – some pets return home months, even years later, their connection to their humans such a beautiful and strong component to get them home (think of the movie ‘Homeward Bound’ – I cry at the end EVERY time!).
How do you create your characters’ relationships? Do you think about past, present, and future of your characters? Do you bring nature into your stories, and if so, do you showcase beauty or danger, or both?
As this post goes live, I’ll be returning to Wyoming after four days in Arizona and three days in Las Vegas. In Vegas, I’ll have met up with another long-time friend, a woman who lives in California but who has ties (including the start of our friendship 20 years ago) in Montana; I also planned to have lunch with fellow Writing Wrangler Mike Staton. I’m very excited to see Kari and share my birthday with her with dinner and a show, and to meet and visit with Mike. There’s past, present, and future in these friendships, too – what a beautiful thing!
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including The Dog Did What?, released August 2014. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.