Rejoicing with Nature In Our Own Backyards with Margaret Renkl

This program may stir up many memories of encounters with the wild neighbors in your own backyard. Renkl suggests stepping out of our small world of computer screens, smart phones, and TVs to step into the larger natural world, which is everywhere, just outside our front door. She helps us to see its delights more clearly. She says, “I’m not trying to position myself as an environmental writer who is a true expert in the field, I’m just a person who sits on the back steps, or looks out the window, or walks in the park. I don’t have any special expertise. All I can tell you is what I’ve observed myself in my own little half acre on which I’ve lived for 28 years.” Renkl encourages us to support groups like the National Wildlife Foundation and to sign petitions that favor a healthier environment. However, her most inspiring advice is to go out and make for yourself an “untidy” garden that will nurture your soul and the natural world. She encourages us to fall in love with the natural companions in our lives: the spiders, the hummingbirds, the coyotes, the butterflies, rabbits, crickets, raccoons, and so many other species who are living right beside us. When we fall in love with them, we can’t help but want to save them.

Margaret Renkl is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, where her essays appear weekly. She has been recognized with numerous prestigious awards for her writing. She is the founding editor of Chapter 16, a daily literary publication of Humanities Tennessee. A graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Carolina, she now lives in Nashville. 

Margaret Renkl is the author of: 

  • Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss (Milkweed Editions 2019)
  • Graceland, At Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South. (Milkweed Editions 2021)
  • The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year (Spiegel and Grau 2023) 

To learn more about the work of Margaret Renkl go to

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