Mary Oliver published many books of poetry and is best known as a poet. But included in her 25 books is also prose and one of those is Upstream. It is a collection of essays about her relationship to the natural world, and how it influences her writing and reading.
In the title essay in that book, she describes getting lost in the woods as a child. You would expect her to have been fearful, but she says she had “the sense of going toward the source.”
“One tree is like another, but not too much. One tulip is like the next tulip, but not altogether.”
The essay asks all of us to teach and show children how to notice the world. She suggests that we stand them in a creek and walk upstream, notice the sticks, rocks, leaves, flowers, and insects. All of those things seem silent, but they’re not. You need to listen. Attention is the beginning of devotion.
In a 2015 interview on the radio program On Being, Oliver talked about all this and especially how walking and writing in the woods saved her life.