An Apology to the Forest



I’ve been writing almost daily for over ten years.  I started after 9/11/01 to try to make sense of a world that seemed beyond understanding.  Wrestling with the uncertainty of not knowing what each day may bring, I began with what I saw happening in our own back yard, in the barn and woods, in my family and in my work. Then I tapped into my memory and personal history, and the words just kept flowing.

All this has grown to over 1500 separate essays, poems and stories accompanied by backyard photographs. This is a whole lot of word harvesting, most of which exists in pixels and gigabytes, not printed on paper so no apologies are necessary to our local forests.

A few pieces have been published in really lovely publications that people actually receive in the mail, to hold in their hands while they are sitting on the toilet, or in the bath tub, or it falls onto their tummies while they are doze off at night.  I know these magazines are read in doctor and dentist waiting rooms while people sit nervously waiting for a diagnosis or a painful procedure, or they are feeling so miserable, all they can do is look at pretty pictures with encouraging words.

I have had a few appreciative letters from readers reach me, addressed with only my name and the small town where I live in Washington state, with no zip code.  Based on these communications, I estimate the average age of my readership to be approximately 85 years old.  While that doesn’t bode well for the longevity of my potential audience, I at least know there is a growing cohort of octogenarians anticipated in the next 30+ years, myself included, so maybe there is still hope.

What to do in a day and age of electronic books, self publishing and blogging?   This collection of words and photos does not have a plot line and consistent characters, no rising action, no climax, denouement and I hope, no “The End” anytime soon. I wish at times I could hold it in my hands with an actual binding and book jacket because someone else other than me decided it was worth taking a chance to publish. When a publisher actually asked me to send what I have in a significantly more organized form, I laid awake at night in a sweat trying to think up clever, pithy, “you can’t put it down” titles.  No longer can I blame menopause for my insomnia — instead it is the overwhelming anxiety of any writer:  the magazine article goes into the recycle bin or ends up lining the kitty litter box or bird cage, or the unsold books wind up on the remainder discount table completely unwanted and unnecessary to the well being of civilization.

It all comes down to this: what book dream can possibly be worth the life of a tree?





23 thoughts on “An Apology to the Forest

  1. Smiling!! Oh, Emily, I’m very nearly one of your octogenarians, and while reading today’s beautiful offering, I was mentally urging you on to actually publishing a book, knowing I would buy and treasure it! But then I came to the startling end and felt guilty–somewhat! I’m very fond of hard copies of beautiful things–inspiring things–things calming and edifying to my spirit–things I would grieve over if my computer crashed and I lost them! So it’s a quandary! Will the forest forgive me if I collect lovely things that I can actually hold in my hands and treasure over and over again–and leave to my children and grandchildren?
    Thank you so much for your daily love gifts to us all!


  2. I appreciate your sensitivity to the ecological aspect, but I must say I for one would love to see your work in print. I frequently find your words and pictures to be balm for my soul, and I hope there is no “The End” any time soon.

    A couple of decades shy of being an octogenarian,


  3. Honest. Delightful. Delightfully honest – and a little sad because of what so many readers will be denied knowing you and reading your ‘recipes for a Christian disciple’s life’ as
    physician, wife, mother, farmer, animal lover/protector, environmentalist, and just plain beautiful woman who gives and gives and gives of herself….


  4. Thanks, yet again. I offer but a caption for the final photo.

    A hemlock bends against fragile Godlight,
    a soul simple enough to know its place
    inside pale sheens of salmon-scented sky,
    as if content enough with earth and air.

    If a tree could kneel, it is this tree:
    accepting arms brought to genuflection,
    its crown so moved by Shekinah it shies
    away from glory and lifts into prayer.



  5. Dear Emily, I am so grateful to be one who happened to find your blog. I find your writings truly inspired and beautifully expressed. You have given me so much to ponder in a world that seems reduced to “tweets”. Thank you for sharing….


  6. Your words & beautiful pictures coming through this electronic filter bring a smile to my soul & a contentment I can’t find anywhere else. I thank you for sharing your gifts & I thank God for blessing you & your family. Keep it comin!


  7. I love reading your posts . You have a distinct gift , blessing I believe , of putting words together to express the deep longings of our souls . When reading I often think ” wow … that’s IT !!! ” & am validated that I ‘m not the only one who feels this or that or the other thing . I am making a concerted effort to reach out to friends suggesting they read your blog . Some are younger than me ( I am 63 ) so that they can share with their children & children’s children 😉! Thank you for helping me feel I am not crazy !


  8. Emily I think your audience may be younger than you think! I’ve certainly introduced several people to it, and we all love it. Keep writing, and think about that book–many of us would love to hold a beautiful book of your writing in our hands and in our book collections.


  9. Thank you all for your kind and heartfelt encouragement — it does give me hope that what I’m doing is worth doing. And so I will keep on doing it! You have blessed me greatly!



  10. Hello Dee,

    I hoped there was a breath of contentment in what I write, even when the contentment feels far away. We are blessed to be able to seek it in Him.
    Thank you!


  11. Dear JoAnn,
    My house is full of books, so I do have a fondness for the feel of them, the smell of them and how they await on the shelf for the next reader despite the sacrifice made to create them. I have not made the adjustment to the electronic books and not sure I ever will. Thank you for your encouragement!


  12. But it could be an e-book! Your sincere, intelligent writings definitely deserve to be preserved, as do the breath-catching photos. As a project done purely for the glory of our good God, it would have beauty in and of itself, regardless of how many might or might not read it or recognize its lasting value. But I think many would; and none of us here below will ever know (nor need to know) how many souls would eventually be encouraged and edified as result of running across a compiled publication.
    I hope I can somewhat bring down the average age of your readership; I’m 67. 🙂


  13. And yet………..I would that in death I could give one iota of the pleasure received from seeing an incredibly beautiful dead tree
    Still……and I do mean still……..your hilltop sentinel touches everyone, every time…. horse, cow, pup, bunny or human, with her stunning lode of ever-son lighting


  14. Hello,

    I read your blog on a regular basis and I am 52.

    Perhaps you can write an e-book and fulfill a dream and save a tree! All my friends in book club, with the exception of one or two of us, only read books electronically now.

    Blessings to you and yours,

    Melissa Yeager


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