A week or so ago, Mr. Bre took the Lit n’ the Land crew down to Gilman Park to find a metaphor in nature.

What an odd and, frankly, slightly irritating request.  How in the hell do you find a metaphor in nature without sounding like a pseudo-intellectual-Mary-Oliver-wannabe?

I trudged over to spot along the river where gnarled thickets acted as the border between water and land. After scrutinizing the intricate patterns of bark on a birch tree and the different ways in which water ripples in hopes that a metaphor would unsheathe itself, I exhaled. This is supposed to be fun, but you’re turning this into your own personal hell. 

When I’m out on an observation hike, I’m not always thinking about what type of bird is squawking or what kind of tree I’m resting against. Usually I’m thinking about my family or my future or a little something that gave me a smile that day. 

While sitting there, aggravated, I thought of my mother and opened my eyes to metaphor right in front of my Crazy Creek. I pondered me and mother’s changing relationship: me growing fonder and fonder of her and finally realizing how valuable her guidance is.

Lauren K L&L

In front of me are thickets- a cluster of saplings bent out, angled, reaching for the murky water. Above me is the sun- a mother to saplings, nourishment. The saplings so confident in themselves are yearning for the unknown depths of the river, turning their barkless backs on sanctuary and wisdom that the sun offers.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thank you for being my sun. I’m sorry it has taken me this long to comprehend how essential your beams of savvy sunlight are!

-Lauren Karr


Nick’s Post

We recently had an observation session on the green trail by the Exeter river. I was sitting on this soft patch of earth, leaning up against a hemlock tree. It had rained the entire day before and everything smelled damp and fresh. I quite like it when it rains, the sounds, the smells, the feel of it. But whenever I go up to someone on a day like that and say, “hey, I’m really enjoying this rain today,” the most common response is just this withering, mystified look where they just seem to be saying, “You’re joking, right? What the hell are you talking about?”

This is a look that I seem to be getting a lot of these days, mainly from people my age. I’ll be talking about something, maybe something I do, something I enjoy, some philosophy or opinion that I have, and I’ll see that look on the faces of the millennials around me. Not to say that there aren’t exceptions to this, but it’s a strange thing, feeling as though you’re part of a generation that you don’t understand, and that doesn’t really understand you. Now, I can be a very stubborn and pigheaded person; for me, it’s usually my way or the stupid way, my opinion or the wrong one, so perhaps you can imagine that being part of an entire generation of people that usually disagrees with me can be irksome at best. Usually, I just try to stay away from the people I would argue with too much and stick to the outliers. But perhaps it would be beneficial to me to go beyond the occasional comments from my parents that I was born into the wrong generation and actually explore my differences. And a big part of those differences is the land and my connection to it. So perhaps this class can help me talk about and resolve some of these differences and shorten the distance. Or if that’s not possible, then at least maybe I’ll come away better prepared to argue with everyone.

-Nick K.

Night Hike…

I didn’t know what to expect when the twelve of us piled into a Red Dragon bus at 8:30 pm on a Wednesday night. I’d been aggressively sick over the past few days, a lost-voice-throat-sore-can’t-stop-coughing type of sick I hadn’t experienced since elementary school. So I was reluctant to spend my evening out in a field somewhere, trudging under the light-polluted sky rather than tucked burrito-style into my bed.

That first inhalation of dark air when we reached Colby Field and stepped off the dark bus, however, was just as, if not more refreshing than waking from a NyQuil induced nap. It was just chilled enough to prick my skin awake, just breezed enough to nudge upright the hairs on my neck. Despite the greyscale coloration of the landscape before me, the pine trees looked sharper, the grass softer, the clouds calmer. The class was asked to stay silent, so of course, I had to cough. Even my lemon mint Ricola, though, somehow tasted sweeter.

Perhaps it was the fact that I’d just gotten glasses for my recently developed nearsightedness, but as I gazed across the field, I couldn’t help but think that I’d never really looked at the night. Once the sun set, I’d flick on my dorm room light and turn away from the window – nature had gone to sleep, I thought, and there wasn’t anything to see there. Out in Colby Field, though, I realized that the trees still murmured, the grass still quivered, the streams still shimmered – just without the warming glow of the sun overhead.

For some reason, I was filled with the same feeling I’d have every night as a child, after my parents said goodnight and switched off my bedroom light. I’d wait, the corner of whatever book I was in the middle of digging into my cheek from under the pillow where I’d stashed it, until I heard my parents settle into their bedroom. Once I heard the click of their light and saw the glow under my door disappear, I’d slide the book out and lean over to grab my flashlight from under the bed. It was cliché as hell, but I was that kid who read under the covers every night until my tired fingers couldn’t turn to the next page.

Maybe it was the sudafed and ibuprofen combination, but on that night hike I felt like I was watching the sun’s children sneaking in some stolen playtime after he’d settled his head into his cloud-filled pillows for the night. As we picked our way towards the forest on the edge of the field, I felt as if I’d been let in on one of nature’s secret rituals. Time as I knew it dissipated without the sun’s journey to mark the hours for me – I only had the slowly dwindling cough drops under my tongue to indicate that the seconds were still slipping by. After I had unwrapped and dissolved four into a memory of sweetness in my throat, we paused. Slowly, silently, we settled in a Crazy Creek circle out in those dark grey woods, rocking with the wind, our senses privileged. There, I too lost myself in the secret nighttime play of children and trees.

-Rebecca Ju


Walk #1: The Dam Is Coming Down

We strolled down through town this morning to spend some time thinking about “word pools” with Bennet Fellow Peter Anderson. The dam is coming down in July, so this year’s L&L crew is uniquely positioned to think deeply about Exeter’s relationship to the river, is uniquely poised to bear witness to the last expression of this current state of affairs. Check out some of the student blogs to get a sense of how the morning played out.

Thank you, Peter, for your work with the students, for prompting us to think about “river words” and the many embedded metaphors that rivers suggest.

Walk #9: The Word Barn


Class Pic@ The Word Barn

Today, we gathered at The Word Barn in Newfields for the inaugural celebratory reading of this spring’s Lit and the Land writing. We were lucky enough to be accompanied by the stunningly talented Three-Quarter Moon, a student band comprised of singer/banjoist (and L&L member!) Hannah Merril; singer/mandolinist Sol Chase; and singer/guitarist Erica McCormick. Thanks, too, to local poet/teacher Sarah Anderson for lending us the use of her Word Barn space!

While we heard an array of voices today, all of them held at their core the themes of place and beauty, the natural world and its myriad expressions. It was a joy to listen to your words today, making their own music–humansong as beautiful as any birds I’ve heard all spring. Hopefully, I’ll have some more video of the event up soon.

-Mr. Bre