He strolled around the block and noted the trees, the bugs, the birds and the beasts, and he kept a journal of seasonal surprises or reassurances. Scott J. Turner then turned his observations into a column for the Providence Journal.
I saved a number of Turner’s columns and then asked him to visit my seminar, at the Rhode Island School of Design, in something like “journalism” – a seminar that I subtitled on the syllabus, “Writing with your Feet.” My demand was that the students get out of the confines of their studios and let strangers read their stories. People might like what they sketched, snapped a shot of, or had to say in print. Or not. They could get fan mail or hate mail. The worst offense was spelling someone’s name wrong. Or missing a deadline.
Well, one recent day, Turner stopped by my house, a few blocks from his, and left me his book with the charming title “Beauty in the Street,” and with the subtitle, “Nature Tales from the Neighborhood.” He had published his diary through a press in Pawtucket called Stillwater River.
What with Hanukkah coming up as early as November, I welcomed his collected essays as though they were somehow like the candles we light, inspired not only spiritually and historically but also perhaps ecologically. I mean, what with the pandemic, we all of us walk around the neighborhood in quest of peace, beauty, camaraderie.
It’s the perfect time of year and seasonal holiday to enjoy Turner’s delightful tales. It’s as though you were joining Scott J., his wife Karen, and their “adventure buddies,” son Noah and daughter Rachel.
Remember the dolphin in the downtown river? Did you enjoy the variegated butterflies that have probably gone off by now from your yard, heading for Mexico or Costa Rica? You can find them on the pages of this marvelous volume.
I find it intriguing that these days you can share your adventures without draining resources. You can find your fame and your name in print nearby, and you know what? That’s the best way, friendly and within the traditions of the genre all over the troubled world!
MIKE FINK (email@example.com) teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.