Mary A. Hood is a professor emerita at the University of West Florida, a poet, as well as a talented writer. She is the author of The Strangler Fig and Other Tales: Field Notes of a Conservationist and Rivertime: Ecotravel on the World’s Rivers. In addition to books, she has published several collections of poetry, general articles on conservation and the environment, and scientific articles in the field of microbial ecology. Her newest book, Walking Seasonal Roads, was published in May and has received glowing reviews.
“With a naturalist’s eye and a poet’s heart, Mary Hood re-animates a sense of place in Walking Seasonal Roads.”—Edward A. Dougherty
Has writing Walking Seasonal Roads helped to shape your own identity?
“At my age, I imagine my identity is already pretty-much shaped, but writing “Walking Seasonal Roads” has not only helped clarify my ideas on the value of Place and Home, but has given me a sense of gratitude for the beauty of this area. Having traveled the world (logging in at 45 countries) I would claim this region as probably the most beautiful I have ever experienced.”
How have roads led you to reflect on your personal life?
“We all know that walking is good for both body and soul. Meditative walking has long been a valuable spiritual practice and a worthy activity for reflective thought. To walk and experience the natural world seasonal roads offer seems the ideal process for examining and reflecting on life in general and on one’s own life, in particular.”
What is your favorite road?
“My favorite seasonal roads are probably those in the Pulteney highlands because they run through such diverse landscapes, forests, ponds, fallow fields, pastureland and crop fields.”
Writing about a subject matter such as roads may seem simple yet complex in all actuality. What were your biggest challenges in your experiences and research for this book?
“The biggest challenge to writing this book was to make it work on multiple levels, to make it work as descriptive nature writing, as a history of other nature writers, as a little bit of a personal narrative and memoir, and as a calling forth of our responsibility to sustain our natural world.”
Were you inspired by any other author or novelist to write this book?
“There are so many fine and crafted writers today that it’s hard to say who has been the most inspiring. Our own New York writers, Diane Ackerman, Robin Kimmerer, and Linda Underhill have to be counted. And others, Barbara Hurd, Mary Swander, to list a few, have certainly influenced my writing.”
What have you learned while writing Walking Seasonal Roads?
“Probably the most interesting thing I learned while writing about seasonal roads is how differently we treat our land; the spectrum ranges from grass roots efforts at conservation by such folks as private landowners and the Finger Lakes Land Trust to loggers to corporate gas drilling via hydrofracking.”
If you’re interested in joining Mary Hood on her dirt road travels, Walking Seasonal Roads is available for purchase on the Syracuse University Press website.