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MFA in Creative Nonfiction
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Sanctuary is my memoir about living on a wildlife sanctuary in the Adirondacks from 1973 to 1982. An idealistic artist, freshly graduated from college and newly married, arrives with her biologist husband in the Adirondacks of upstate New York in 1973 to develop a nature center on a 1,300-acre wildlife sanctuary. Little does she know she will be living a paradox when her husband’s violent, unpredictable behavior eventually forces her to seek sanctuary elsewhere. But long before and after she leaves, the sylvan peace and beauty of the wildlife sanctuary dwells within her. She admires and respects her husband for his vast knowledge of nature, and he is proud of his rapt student who helps him guide nature hikes and give programs, and draws animals for the exhibits and brochures. She learns firsthand how to raise wild orphans so she can set them free: a fawn, woodchuck, skunk, black duck, and great-horned owl. On the sanctuary, she learns to let go of many things close to her heart until she has to let go of the sanctuary itself. Sanctuary explores a deep sense of place, a love of nature, and the complexity of shadows and light that shifts in nature and within a marriage. The silence of deep-snow winters is balanced by migrating bird concerts and barn dance fiddle music. Spells of solitude are punctuated by encounters with lumberjacks, conservation officers, wild orphans, and an elderly woman who shares her home with beavers. Set in the early years of the environmental and feminist movements, this lyrical memoir depicts a life up-close in nature while portraying a richness of what is gained when something is lost, and how we can be transformed through the wildness of nature.