The Talking Stick Blog

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Nature, Writing, Literature: Freewriting and Freewalking


Freewriting and Freewalking

December 3, 2013

As we waited for everyone to arrive, we played a word game of creating sentences with each person adding one word at a time.  After the first hilarious and inventive sentence, several young people asked, "Are you writing these down?"  One person commented that we could add them to the blog.  Here are the sentences that followed, which offered opportunities to analyze parts of speech:

Lamps fly away energetically, screaming through the void. Voids were very, very bright, as cucumbers shining are very ominous. Ominous trees always chuckle hula hoops; the hula hoops chuckle purple and are very eco-friendly with plastic parts flying, moving, spinning evilly and are very majestic.

After this freeflowing beginning, I shared Peter Elbow’s description about the value of freewriting, and we all wrote nonstop for ten minutes.  In his book Writing Without Teachers, Elbow elaborates on the ways in which he has used freewriting as a discipline to improve his writing.

We then took advantage of the beautiful, mild-for-December day to do some freewalking around the grounds, following a suggested exploration in How to be an Explorer of the World. We each developed a small collection as we walked and based the organizing theme of the collection on the first thing we found (all smooth things, for instance).


Along the way we discovered a mysterious slit in the ground with long, rusted screws projecting out of it. We learned later that there was once a sculpture in this section of the English Landscape Park.


We were also drawn to the magnificent copper color of a tree trunk along the main drive. When we examined it more closely, we learned that the bark was peeling, but it did not look like the birch trees we have seen in other parts of the arboretum.


Steve Pascavitch, Awbury's arborist, let us know that it is a paperbark maple. He also told us about another maple with exfoliating bark, a triflora maple, and where to find it on the grounds.

One participant's suggestion to play a round of tree tag before going in led us to review trees we had identified at the end of October, mainly a bur oak, a shagbark hickory, and an American basswood.

Once inside, we made notes about our collections and shared our categories, which included: things not from nature, things that are different colors on each side, things with many parts, things with missing parts, natural items that fairies would use in everyday life, things that squirrels would eat, brown leaves, and things I want to make things out of.


As we hear in the news about the need for greater monitoring of the earth's processes, it feels more critical for each of us to collect our own daily observations of what is changing, of the beauty that endures.