Ringing a Mental Bell

My writing style is different. Short lead sentences attempt to create a haunting question; answers often lurk in the last paragraph and force the reader to cogitate a bit. Descriptive passages contain long brush strokes by design and this style sometimes swims against the flow. I’ve been taken to task for this idiosyncrasy, for you see, I don’t adhere to the standard outdoor writer’s “hook and bullet” format, by choice. But my topics are not mainstream, either.

In my effort to connecMallard ducks feeding on the River Raisint the reader with the outdoor dramas that I found unfolding before my eyes, I came to realize that a major portion of that drama was the sensory smorgasbord the outdoor world offers. A duck hunt, traditional or modern, is more than the few fleeting seconds when a fast-flying fowl streaks close, it is much more, if the hunter, or the writer, or the reader allows it to be.

On a humid October morn, the wormy-wet, mucky odor that clings to the River Raisin’s slow flowing current leaves a lasting impression. The low, staccato “tuga-tuga-tuga…” of a mallard hen paddling amongst yellowing lily pads nurtures a cherished memory, as does the throbbing numbness of a November wind slicing through layers of linen and wool as a green-headed drake sets its wings. And the taste of goose-breast filets, lightly fried with a dab of bear fat over glowing red coals and eaten with bare fingers, is unforgettable, too.

To me, the “Kill-deee, Kill-deee,” of a killdeer scampering on the Raisin’s crusted mudflats or the low, crisp “poppp…” of a hen turkey calling its scattered poults is an integral part of venturing into the out-of-doors. Editing out or omitting the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes and the feel of the glade does a disservice to the reader, whether that individual is a seasoned hunter or someone who has never set foot in a fen or forest.

At a Lost Word Writers Group meeting one summer evening, the discussion turned to the inclusion of sensory description. I shared a passage that contained wild turkey gobbles. Bill Baetz, who knew nothing of long-bearded toms asked: “This is different. As a writer, what are you trying to accomplish with your readers?”

Tom turkeys walking and gobblingI answered without thinking, “This is the real outdoors, raw and uncensored. This is the world I know and love. My goal is for the reader to become an active participant, if only vicariously, in my adventures…”

For the uninitiated, I hope incorporating a sound or two will tweak their curiosity and encourage them to explore nature; for those who have experienced the awe-inspiring splendor of a gobbling turkey, I hope including a sound reference will ring the mental bell of association and pull them into the storyline.”

Please continue to enjoy your visit, be safe, and may God bless you.


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