By Lucy Townsend
As observers of nature we often notice the small things, the marks and texture of leaves for example, or the patterns in the bark of a tree. And it’s often the small details that can make our writing vivid, more interesting, and in many cases more beautiful. Creative writing lecturer Craig Jordan-Baker has a brilliantly simple exercise about observation, which he has generously gifted as this week’s writing prompt. It’s a simple glossary, a list of nature words that you may not have heard of, some rooted in dialect, others in science. The task is to include just one of them in a piece of writing. The theory is that observation is something that is active, that we have to look for things to be able to see them, and if these ‘things’ actually have names, then perhaps we will notice more of them.
So here is your glossary - some words come from Craig, some from me, and some from our experts at the Trust.
Sun dog: Patches of light occasionally seen about 22 degrees on each side of the sun.
Moon halo: A circle of light sometimes seen around the moon.
Crepuscular: Being active during twilight.
Clodgy: Wet, thick mud, after heavy rain.
Honeydew: The sticky substance that coats oak leaves in mid-summer. It’s produced by the oak aphid and is a food source by many butterfly species.
Riparian: Wetlands beside rivers and streams.
Smeuse: A gap in the hedge made by an animal.
Quealed: Withered, curled up.
Fiddlehead: The new, unfurling fronds of a fern.
Mud-puddling: When insects (mainly butterflies) suck up dissolved mineral salts from damp ground.
How to submit your work
Your work needs to be a maximum of 14 lines of poetry or 150 words of flash fiction, previously unpublished, that mark this specific time and the uplifting role of wildlife. A Sussex Wildlife Trust panel will then pick a selection to publish in our online anthology.
Closing date: 12 April 2021
Lucy Townsend is a writer, journalist and wildlife lover based in Sussex. She has worked for the BBC and Sky, among others, and is currently flexing her writing muscles on a MA in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton.