Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Between Sweetwater and Sand by Barbara Spring

Now available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com


Big misty bright
slice of sweet melon
a light
in the southwest
a sheen in the lake.
symbol to some.
To me
only the moon—

soon to be occluded

excerpted from Between Sweetwater and Sand

Between Sweetwater and Sand: a book of poems

Monday, June 17, 2013

Barnes & Noble has my book

Between Sweetwater and Sand: Poetry

Between Sweetwater and Sand is a book of love poems for Planet Earth and her living tapestries of plants, birds, fish and animals that live on sands, forests, in airstreams and living waters.

Barbara Spring lives on the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  She has published articles and poems in numerous newspapers and magazines and on the www.  She taught poetry to gifted children and taught writing classes and liberal studies at Grand Valley State University. 

Her published books include: The Dynamic Great Lakes, a critically acclaimed a non-fiction book about changes in the Great Lakes; The Wilderness Within, a book of poems and essays about wild places; and Sophia’s Lost and Found: Poems of Above and Below. This book celebrates wisdom and mourns the times when Sophia is lost.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Playing Around the Great Lakes


Hands On Outdoor Learning

 I’m told that children learn through play.  From what I have experienced, I believe that everyone can learn through play. Our family has been playing in, on and around the Great Lakes most of our lives. We have learned a lot while we swam, boated, fished and beach combed.  The lakes engaged all our senses: the splash of cold water, the sound of the waves, the silence of fog, hot sand underfoot and the way it sings when you drag your toes across it, the ever changing colors and rhythms of waves, the times fish bite the best.   The outdoors have many lessons to teach if we pay attention.

     Family vacations took us to all of the Great Lakes; the majesty of Niagara Falls; to the rocky shores of Lake Superior where we hunted for agates; to many embayments and open waters of the lakes to fish.  My husband  Norm, has caught nearly every kind of fish in the lakes: walleye from Lake Erie and the embayments of the upper Great Lakes, deep water fish such as lake trout and burbot, and the annual runs of white fish and perch  Pacific salmon that were planted to control alewives.

     We have all learned so much from our outdoor adventures;  changing colors, their beaches of stone or sand, waterfalls, fishes and birds, wetlands , and dunes with their succession of plants.  In our play around the Great Lakes, we always learn something new.

     With all of this hands-on experience I wrote a non-fiction book, The Dynamic Great Lakes, a non-fiction primer.  I had wanted a book like this to read, but I never found one so I decided to write a book with information that people could use to make sound decisions about the Great Lakes.

    I am also the published author of three poetry books: The Wilderness Within and Sophia’s Lost and Found: Poems of Above and Below and Between Sweetwater and Sand. The last book will be released July 30, 2013( These poems are drawn directly from observations of nature.   

     At Grand Valley State University, I developed writing classes based upon environmental studies. This gave students important topics to work with. I did not want papers recycled from high school.  I assigned books such as The Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold and Blue Highways by William Least-Heat Moon and Thoreau.  We discussed the topics and writing techniques used by these authors.

  I asked my students to go outdoors and use observation and to use the five senses. They kept journals based on what they saw and even how they felt about what they saw.   I brought things from nature such as feathers and plants indoors for students to hold in their hands and then describe in concrete detail. They played with the downy feathers, blowing on them and closely observing them.

I asked them to use metaphor and to use as many of the five senses as they could in their descriptions.  Student writing becomes grounded in reality when using these sorts of exercises. 

Our lives become grounded when playing outdoors.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Dynamic Great Lakes Updated

When I think of the 500 year old white pines that used to be where I live, I feel a sadness. White pines were called white gold and used for the masts of ships, and in West Michigan, these trees rebuilt Chicago after the great fire.
When I think of the sturgeon that were killed and burned like cord wood because they fouled fishermen’s nets, I want to cry.

Glacial relics remain in the dunes and wetlands such as the arctic primrose. The names of flowers are lovely: grass pink, lady’s tresses, ramshead ladyslipper. The fragrances of these flowers are in my imagination. Very few are really found.   Few are found because dunes and wetlands have been leveled.

When Jaques Cartier reached the Great Lakes, his men had scurvy. The Native Americans taught the French how to get vitamin C by making arbor vitae tea. The tea was made by pouring hot water over the leaves of this tree. They learned of a natural pesticide from the aroma of white spruce.

Now harmful chemicals are found in the air, water and soil and this is really something to grieve. This was my motivation for writing The Dynamic Great Lakes. I care about the environment so much that I had to do something. This book shows what some people working on grassroots committees have been able to do. It is a hopeful book. It is a beginning. Without basic knowledge about the Great Lakes it is impossible to make the right decisions about them.
The book is updated and is available at bn.com and Amazon.com and also is available on Amazon’s Kindle for $9.95.