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Imposter in the Woods
by Lori Goshert

The call of a cardinal echoes through the trees. A brown anole skitters up a palm trunk, pausing to listen and bob her head.

With one finger jammed between the pages of my book to mark the place, I crane my neck to peer under the lounge chair, seeking the fat brown ant that disappeared underneath. I examine the back rails to make sure the insect is not making her way toward me, and I shake out my discarded shoes. I regard the jumping spider on the arm of the chair with suspicion—I do not fear spiders, but the unpredictability of jumping insects and arachnids unnerves me. I like knowing where things are and where they are going. Especially if they’re creepy.

I consider myself a lover of nature, even presuming to write about birds and environmental issues. But I keep nature at arm’s length—a long-distance romance.

I devour documentaries of faraway rainforests, reveling in the flight of scarlet and green parrots and the majestic decisiveness of jaguars. I will never visit them, but to ensure their survival, I place my pen, my time, and sometimes my wallet at their service. The oxygen those trees exhale makes my life possible, and their destruction is my own.

The only reason I’d leave the convenience of an urban apartment for a house would be to plant fruit trees and let my lawn burst with food for people and pollinators rather than grass. But I know myself—I would rather suffer jury duty or fold laundry than dig in the dirt, where I’d encounter wriggling earthworms. And the very thought of bugs on my skin makes every hair stand up.

There is much in the city to feed my love of nature: The moss hanging from the southern live oaks. The barred owl behind our building periodically calling “Who cooks for you?” I long to answer him, but he stubbornly refuses to show himself for a real conversation.

The wonders of our national parks call to me, and I long to visit and marvel in the august presence of ancient trees, mirror-still mountain lakes, and multi-pigmented rock formations. But when the sun goes to bed, let me bask in the glory of indoor plumbing, snake- and insect-proof doors and windows, and the promise of morning elixir from the venerable coffeepot. (Though a  voice in the back of my mind scolds me, saying I should know how to “rough it.” For the future, when we’re all living in Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower.)

Am I an imposter, then, when writing about nature issues? I ask myself that each time I lift my pen to extol the delicate beauty of a green heron, the still vigilance of a lizard, or the mossy fairy-tale shape of a live oak. Yet I continue to look for that owl—through my apartment window—and to write about him and his bird friends.

August 2022

Speaker: Mary Lou Williams
Workshop Topic: The Art and Craft of the Personal Story
August 20, 2022, 10 a.m. to Noon

In person and Zoom meeting – Register Here

Mary Lou Williams
Location: Map
Word of Life Church
6111 South Pointe Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33919


Note:
Google maps or your GPS may direct you to the back of the building. The entrance to the parking lot is on South Point Blvd. between Quigley Eye Specialists and Buckets Restaurant.
Handout for Workshop

 

Using two tried and true techniques, the Memory Map and the “StoryBox,”
participants will learn a fun, easy way to pull numerous story ideas out of their
own personal life experiences and turn any one of them into a well-rounded tale.
Participants will leave the workshop with one new piece that will contain all the
bones of a good story. Whether a story lover, a family storyteller, a performing
teller, a writer or a public speaker – this workshop will help participants build their
repertoires, enhance any presentation and transform life experiences into spellbinding narratives.

What participants will get from this workshop:

  • The Memory Map technique for finding a personal story
  • The “StoryBox” technique for crafting a personal story
  • A new tale that contains all the bones of a good story

Mary Lou Williams is a retired teacher and a professional storyteller. She holds a masters degree in education from Columbia University.  She has served on the board of the Florida Storytelling Association and has produced local storytelling workshops and concerts featuring national tellers.  She is also a member of Toastmasters and has achieved the Distinguished Toastmaster award.  She has written a book of her stories called Ten Fractured Fairy TalesShe is a member of The Storytellers of the Round Table, a quartet of storytellers that produce and perform storytelling showcases at the Sugden theatre in Naples and the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers and perform regularly at Brambles English Tea Room in Naples. She won first place in the Story Slam contest at the 2018 Florida Storytelling Festival and was a featured teller at the 2018 Stone Soup Festival, the official state storytelling festival of South Carolina.  She won first place in the District 48 Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest  on May 13, 2022.

Website: Story-Theatre.com

More about Mary Lou