Nature Essays Collection Part of Michigan Notable Books List

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By CHIOMA LEWIS
Capital Information Service

LANSING – When Tom Springer got interested in stargazing he started walking the road where he lives in Three Rivers to look at the stars.

He realized that a telescope gave him limited perspective.

“All a telescope does is focus on something small and narrow,” he said.

To find something as big as a constellation, you need a bigger perspective.

And Springer found one when he stumbled upon a sycamore tree with branches like a goal post. It’s the tree pictured on the cover of his new book, “The Star in the Sycamore: Discovering Nature’s Hidden Virtues in Nearby Nature” (Mission Point Press, $ 17.95).

Recently, the Michigan Library selected the Nature Essays Collection as one of Michigan’s Outstanding Books in 2021.

The stories describe what Springer considers the seven seasons of the year.

As Springer puts it, these seven seasons are “no less precise than the calendar rigidity of spring, summer, fall, and winter.”

“Does anybody really believe that summer begins on June 21? No, Michigan’s first ripe strawberries tell me summer, just like a sumac blazing purple in an August fence sends the first semaphore flag of fall, ”he wrote.

Courtesy photo.

Nature essayist Tom Springer.

Springer is the founder of Sunfish Consulting, a company that provides leadership communication support to universities, nonprofits and private foundations.

But he is also a nature writer and journalist. He wrote his first book, “Looking for Hickories: The Forgotten Wildness of the Rural Midwest”, 12 years ago.

This book was inspired by adventures that led to trying to repair an old farm, restore nature and raise a family, he said.

Since then he has written numerous essays on nature but has struggled to put them together in another book.

“When you’re trying to create something from scratch, you can’t always force it,” Springer said.

The connection between the trees and the stars that he observed while observing the stars helped.

“When you write a collection of essays, they’re about experiences that happen to you that sometimes you can’t plan,” Springer said.

Every tree that has ever lived has a shape formed by its response to light, Springer said. He captures this thought in an essay titled “A Sure, Quiet Route to Stardom”.

“The tree was shaped by a star, like any tree the world has ever known. Trees are little more than light embodied. Starlight (sunlight if you prefer) first warms the soil to extract a tree seed from the soil. From there, sunlight shapes the course of its wooded ascent to the top.

Like a tree, Springer began to think about how people are shaped by light in their lives and how this light makes them grow and develop.

“We all have times in our life when we don’t see the light, where we stumble into the darkness and try to find our way,” he said.

Springer said the book’s publication in 2020 with the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic made it timely.

People were looking for habits to bring them peace, health and relaxation, he said. Nature has a powerful ability to do this.

“Some of the relaxation that nature gives you, you can find in a good nature writing book,” he said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he saw more people outdoors spending time in nature walking, biking and visiting parks.

In 2020, a lot of people have been forced to slow down and realize how much they mask the natural world with technology and how effective it can be to visit a local park or something in their own backyard, he said. he declares.

“When your world is made to get smaller, you pay more attention to the world in front of you,” Springer said. “The natural world is beautiful, it’s interesting, it distracts our attention, it takes us away from the blue screen, which we know stimulates us too much.

Making a daily habit of going out and paying attention allows people to observe things in the environment that they have never noticed before, he said. This includes the smell of trees or the habits of wildlife.

“Nature is so powerful and so much a part of us that even reading about it can bring us that peace,” Springer said. “And that can give us a glimpse of things we can look for the next time we’re out there.”

The book is available via Horizon Books in Traverse City and Amazon.

Chioma Lewis writes for Great Lakes Echo.


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