Welcome to Love of Place. Most of my work celebrates our connection to the natural world.

Most recently, my Knocking on Heaven's Door is the winner in the category of science fiction in the 2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards and in the category of fiction in the 2016 Arizona Authors Association Awards. A number of reviewers have been enthusiastic, including the website Geeks of Doom, which makes me smile. Not many people know me as a geek of doom! But I am happy to embrace the complexity of my personality.

I'm also so pleased that Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World has been awarded the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing, as well as the 2014 WILLA Award for Creative Nonfiction from Women Writing the West.

My historical fantasy Teresa of the New World won the 2015 Arizona Authors Association Award for best Children's Literature and was a finalist for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for Children's Literature, the WILLA Award for Children's Literature, and the May Sarton Award for Children's Literature.

These are nice landmarks in a writer's life. I would be writing regardless--but, still, whew. It's good to have some encouragement.

Feel free to contact me at http://www.sharmanaptrussell.com or through my author Facebook page, Sharman Apt Russell.

Monday, September 30, 2013

My Nature’s Notebook walk, those three acres behind my house and irrigation ditch, has been over-taken by an invasion of six-feet-high kochia, a drought-tolerant member of the chenopodium family brought to North America in the early 1900s from the steppes of southern Russia. Also known as poor man’s alfalfa and sometimes grown as a low-cost feed, the red-stemmed plant with slender leaves is brown now and drying, seed-heads bursting, stalks sharp, a prickly mass tangled with wolfberry and hackberry and tumbleweed—another exotic from Russia, another thorn in the side of the West. Game trails snake through this sudden dense field, paths too low and narrow for me to use. Instead I have to shoulder through, snapping, flinching, accumulating debris. My socks grow needles. My clothes harbor enemies. (Clothes are preferable to being naked, of course. What a thought.)  

 At this time of year, I stop going on certain hikes precisely because of this bad plant behavior, the way these species spread their seeds in hardened, sculptured capsules designed to catch on surfaces and be transported elsewhere: the spiny cocklebur and showering pins of Bigelows beggarticks, the common storkbill with its augurs and upward-pointing barbs, the horns of devil’s claw enclosing a shoe while the goathead pierces right through the leather bottom. Today I have no choice but to mince and barrel through these yielding waves of reproductive animosity, needing to check on my desert willow and honey mesquite and fourwing saltbush.
It’s the female saltbush that makes me pause and feel oddly tender, that maternal figure almost hidden—transformed, burdened-- under a massive cloak of brown, papery, four-winged seed. 

Back at my house, the native sunflowers grow up wild and well-watered in the orchard and courtyard so that they tower eight, nine, ten feet high, forming tunnels and bowers, topped by bright yellow flower-faces. It’s like living in a picture book.  I expect a giant ladybug. A talking caterpillar.


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