Writing and the Naturalist's Mind

General Description:

This remarkable weekend workshop will not be a standard writing class but an investigation into the natural history of the English language. Through observations and explorations in a variety of landscapes we will study the “naturalist’s mind” and discuss ways we might communicate our understanding and experience of the natural world through writing. We will practice working from different perspectives and insights in search of ways to use language in vital new ways, and more of our time will be spent actively seeking unique words, descriptions, and sentence structures than focusing on quiet contemplative writing practice.

Class Schedule

Plan to arrive at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus on Friday. We will get acquainted that evening, but the class will begin at 7:30 AM on Saturday. The weekend's activities will be flexible to take advantage of some of the best viewing opportunities but in general each day will be spent in the field, with time to relax at lunch, and returning to the field campus by dinner. Lectures and discussions will be held informally in the field or in the evening. Evening activities may include searching for owls. Walks will be generally short but could range up to 5 miles over moderately rough terrain. The class will end around noon on Sunday.

Supplies and Other Useful Items

Field gear

Camping gear


Days are warm, even hot, while evenings are quite cold (close to freezing). Clothing that can be layered for variable weather conditions is best. T-shirts and shorts are often perfect during the day, with a wind jacket or raincoat as backup. Long pants, warmer shirts and sweaters with a coat are necessary in the evening. Comfortable shoes, sun hat, wool hat and gloves are important. Old sneakers or rubber boots and a swimsuit may come in handy while visiting marshes.