It is not disingenuous when I say that the students were the real authors of “Biodesign Out For A Walk.” Starting on page 1, Matthew asked, “WAIT A MINUTE! What the hell do we believe anyway?” And on page 271, Erich offered a poignant epigram; “When I think of all the things that could have gone right and did, I am amazed.”
Whether the contribution was large or small, every student left his/her heart print on The Class and on me. There was a lot of goodness discovered along with a few bad and ugly moments, but after all, The Class was a microcosm of humanity.
A surprising and intriguing aspect of the post-publication process of BOFAW is that, thanks to Facebook, people are still contributing. A post here, a photo there and the narrative marches on. If mystery is the operative word for BOFAW, then Sharka Waite is the epitome of mystery. She was born in Czechoslovakia and as a little girl enjoyed hiking and exploring nature. However, growing up in a communist country, she was taught that certain subjects were not to be discussed in public. As evidence of this, her father was arrested and sent to a detention center for six months for voicing objections against the government. I cannot imagine the terror that her dad must have experienced. One of the communist “persuasion” tactics was to threaten retaliation against dissenter’s families. It was for reasons like these that I reminded all of my students that; “someone died so that you can study, learn and grow without fear or retribution.” It was a truly awesome privilege.
Eventually Sharka immigrated alone to the US and after she arrived she was free to celebrate her Constitutional gift of being able to exercise the “illimitable freedom of the human mind.” It was through exercising that freedom that she discovered our Facebook page and website.
She and her husband Mark joined our band of happy hikers several months after the book was released and ever since she has contributed many creative ideas behind the scenes. We discovered that John Muir, R.W. Emerson and Henry Thoreau are a few of her favorite naturalists and that she is a multi-gifted author, nature photographer, poet and graphic designer.
One year later, she and Mark traveled to the Napa Valley on vacation and we were privileged to meet them over lunch. After the visit, she collaborated with Don McCauley (Author’s Show) to update our website and assumed the responsibility of posting our blogs. Then she graciously volunteered to be our publicity agent and has offered even more constructive ideas. One of her neatest (and most visible) contributions has been “Friday Musings. “Her pairing of quotes and photos has been as special as a gifted Napa Valley sommelier, matching the perfect wine with the perfect meal. Readers, who have been following our page carefully, probably have noticed that her “Musings” have a softer, gentler tone than that of this old mountain man.We collaborate often and I soon discovered that she can fly like an eagle; she retains her child-like wonder and curiosity; she is not afraid of the dark and exults in using a spiritual flashlight.
She suggested that we submit a copy of BOFAW for review by the Internet book sites,“Favorite Reads” and “Good Reads.” The book received a 5-star rating from both. Like John Muir, however, I don’t appreciate being, “propped up for the populace to gawk at,” but with about 250,000 self-published books out there, we have been advised that it is a necessary chore. Even so, I was a little embarrassed when she recently posted the reviews from Readers Favs.
Sharka and Mark have joined our inner-circle of supporters who are dedicated to sharing the redemptive message of John Muir, Loren Eiseley, Henry Thoreau and R.W. Emerson, who all agree that we need to claim our spiritual birthright and thereby be“born again” in the beauty, sanctity and serenity of Nature.
You can check out Sharka’s Nature photography, digital art and poetry: