A. I found most of the characters for my new book, A Whiff of Pine, A Hint of Skunk, in a forest where I go to walk by myself and think great thoughts. Even though it's a public nature preserve, I think of it as my forest. It sits on a river bluff with steep trails and shady valleys and it is full of things to see, hear, feel, and smell.
On one of my walks, I heard a rustling sound coming from deep down in the valley. It was an opossum shuffling along all alone, seemingly downhearted. That encounter inspired a poem about a lonely opossum who daydreams about her marsupial cousins and the exciting lives that they must lead in faraway lands.
Most of the poems in the book started the same way: Something I saw, heard, felt, or smelled in the woods sparked an image or a story in my mind. As the collection began to take shape, I saw that I could frame the book as a year-long walk through the woods -- from one spring to the next.