Writing is a solitary, often lonely, job, and writer friends are precious. Charlene L. Edge is my Writer Friend. We met long before I knew she was a writer, maybe even before she was a writer. Maybe even before she knew she was going to be a writer. She is now the author of an important book about her youth and young adulthood spent in a cult. Her book is titled Undertow, My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International, which won the gold medal in 2017 in the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Book Awards Autobiography/Memoir category.
Nature has been one of my primary interests since I was a little girl. I remember catching fireflies in a jar and bees in my hands in Miami when I was younger than six. I remember the first Scarlet Tanager I ever saw when I was about ten, and watching a pair of Baltimore Orioles build their pendulous nest and raising their families. I remember the red fox that emerged from the wetland and looked at me for a moment with one paw raised. I remember trying to count the number of calls the Whip-poor-will made outside my bedroom window when I lived in New England, and I waited for the call of the Chuck-will’s widow on its return to my Florida woods each March.
When I was 13 years old, I started carrying a small black looseleaf notebook with me to record things I read, or heard, or thought. Some were poems, some were a sentence or two from a book, or a thought from the preacher’s sermon, or maybe a Burma Shave sign. If bumper stickers had been common back then, I’m sure one or two would have been written in my little book.