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Writing Through Extreme Grief Helped Me Become Myself Again
The Literary Hub, 19 July 2019

The cover of my first book, Late Migrations, features a leaf-filled silhouette of a little girl’s face. My face. The original silhouette was made by an Alabama street artist in 1970. I was eight years old, and already I knew I wanted to be a writer. A nature writer. In an apparently preternatural understanding of the economy of nature writing, I also planned to be a large-animal veterinarian; I would deliver calves by day and write books by night. (more….)

I Turned My Back for a Second, Half a Second, and He Was Grown
The New York Times, 10 June 2019

Driving due south in spring is like speeding up time. My mother, who grew up on a peanut farm in Lower Alabama, believed that the growing season expands northward at the rate of a hundred miles per week. I thought about her theory as I was driving south last month, watching the new-green leaves near home fast forward into a denser, darker verdure. I had set off from Nashville in springtime, but when I arrived at my sister’s house near Birmingham, it was already full summer. (more….)

Waking Up to History
The New York Times, 1 April 2019

Like many girls of my generation in the rural South, I learned every form of handwork my grandmother or great-grandmother could teach me: sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting. I even learned to tat, a kind of handwork done with a tiny shuttle that turns thread into lace. Some of my happiest memories are of sitting on the edge of my great-grandmother’s bed, our heads bent together as she pulled out my mangled stitches. (more….)

The Blessing of a Rescue Dog
The New York Times, 27 January 2019

The scruffy little dog of indeterminate origin — she’s either a beagle mix or a terrier mix, depending on which veterinarian is guessing — reaches the end of the driveway and sits down. A gentle tug on the leash merely inspires the dog to lower herself completely, her face on her front paws. A treat offered in exchange for progress on this “walk” yields no better results. (more….)

Journey to a Night Flower
The New York Times, 24 September 2018

For decades, my grandmother was the caretaker of a gangly, disorganized houseplant with nothing, so far as I could see, to recommend it. The plant was ugly, an awkward tangle of greenery fashioned from what seemed to be spare botanical parts: long stems that reached out in a vaguely threatening way and generated new stems, randomly, from within their own stretching expanses. As a little girl, I thought it might bite me. (more….)