Lyanda Haupt’s West Seattle Nest
By Ann Kendall
It might be on a wandering walk through Lincoln Park, or in watching the soil in her backyard tumble upwards as a mole breaks free in the dusk or possibly from the plunking of cherry pits onto her backyard tent in the summer that West Seattle writer Lyanda Haupt finds her inspiration. Her daily experiences in and around our beautiful and sometimes wild corner of the world sustain a layered background for her work as a writer and eco-philosopher. Lyanda’s literary style combined with her love of nature and ecology bring the urban wilderness easily into focus for readers in each of her four books. Her most recent, The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild (2013 Little Brown and Company) will be the focus of her reading on Fri. Feb. 7 at 4 - 6 p.m. at the Westwood Barnes and Noble as part of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s series “Words, Writers & West Seattle.”
Part of Lyanda’s mission is to help people find connections to the wild in everyday life – whether it is learning the birds in your backyard or gaining knowledge of the local coyote population. The Urban Bestiary was written completely outside, lending to its lyrical portrayal of how nature and urban interact and intersect. Like the layers of her surroundings, while writing for months outside in all manner of weather, creating this book was a nest unto itself. Because nature is constantly moving, so is writing when you’re in the middle of your muse – sometimes darting from chapter to chapter like an animal that might dart into the margin of her sightline. Other times, the stillness and cold might slow the process for thoughtful reflection on what our expectations are of nature and how the wild really operates.
In following neighborhood news blogs coverage and comments about wildlife, Lynada points out that West Seattle seems to be quite balanced in its reverence for the natural world. She points out that with more people now living in urban situations than rural; it is easy for people to become alarmed when they fear the encroachment of the wild into seemingly fenced off areas. Her mission in writing is to bring awareness of our natural history alive along with a good amount of common sense about what is safe and how do we co-exist as part of nature, not just next to nature. For Lyanda, West Seattle has shaped her direction as a writer through its closeness to the Sound, the old growth of Schmitz Park and the bevy of creatures that wander through her yard in the darkness. In summer it is not unusual to find her, along with family, enjoying the frolicking and skirmishing of critters in the wee hours in their backyard. After a night of star gazing, she often expects to find chaos the next morning after all the noises of the evening, but everything seems to be where it needs to be although occasionally laundry may have been knocked from the clothesline.
To learn more about how to interact with the nature all around West Seattle and beyond, visit Lyanda’s website at: http://www.lyandalynnhaupt.com/