Kathy Harmon-Luber has called Idyllwild home since 2003. Harmon-Luber is an artist in many forms including sketching and painting. She is also an award-winning photographer. Recently, Harmon-Luber was recognized for another passion in the art realm — poetry.

Idyllwild artist and award-winning poet Kathy Harmon-Luber.
Photo by Ken Luber

Last month, Harmon-Luber submitted one of her poems “Nature Becomes Me” to the Seventh Annual Ross Andrews Nature Poetry Contest sponsored by The Center for Human-Earth Restoration. Harmon-Luber has a love for nature and the outdoors and has spent countless hours on the trails over the years.

“Last Saturday, I received a phone call from the organizers,” Harmon-Luber said. “They shared with me that, of entries from all over the world, I won! A panel of seven judges had high praise for it, saying that they were thrilled to receive such a striking and beautifully written poem.” 

The poem came from a darker place for Harmon-Luber, so winning had a larger emotional impact. After suffering a spinal disc rupture in December 2016, Harmon-Luber was bedridden for over three years as she recovered from the inoperable injury.

“One of the greatest losses was my inability to hike and walk in nature for three years,” Harmon-Luber explained. “One day in my contemplations, I was feeling like I was at the periphery of real life, at the edge of it. As difficult as this realization was, I wanted to turn it into something positive, something hopeful. I wrote ‘Nature Becomes Me’ on June 15, 2019.”

Unfortunately, the awards ceremony has been canceled due to COVID-19, but Harmon-Luber is just grateful that she had the opportunity to be a part of such a special contest.

“I am honored and over the moon to be selected the winner on my first foray into a poetry competition,” Harmon-Luber exclaimed. “In the weeks ahead, they’ll be posting my poem to their website. I will be receiving an award of some sort at some point.” 

According to their website, Ross L. Andrews was an environmental educator and forestry restoration scientist. He had a passion for poetry and spent years helping young people learn about nature, poetry and the earth. Andrews passed away unexpectedly at the age of 39 in 2013. His friends and relatives created the Ross Andrews Nature Poetry Contest in his honor.

Harmon-Luber is continuing her love for poetry and working on two books worth. She is working on a book of poetry called, “Thunder Kisses,” and her nonfiction book “From SUFFERING to THRIVING: Wisdom for Navigating Your Healing Journey,” is set to be published in late 2020. 

Even when life challenges us, and you think things couldn’t get any worse, there is always a silver lining. Harmon-Luber chose to look to the bright side and turn her anguish into contentment.

Nature Becomes Me

I’ve always lived at the edge of things

Teetering at the precipice

on the threshold

of liminal places

dancing between worlds

The edge of the silver sea

 soft sand and spirit sky

moonlit marsh punctuated by Pan’s reeds 

northern lake dusted with diamond stars

hemlock forest cusp of mystery

before darkness falls

The edge of the canyon,

painted violet carmine poppy

the edge of the wild winter woods,

foretold by shimmering brook

the edge of the solstice meadow,

sprinkled with lady bug blooms

the edge of the moon at dawn,

before stars follow her home

The sea mists lift

diving dolphins revealed

in every breaking wave


statuesque in the tall grass

takes flight, soaring

forest crickets chant, 

invite bobcat’s prance among the birch

red fox jumps the twilight stream

to find her fern frond dream bed

In stillness my lungs brim with sea salt breath

raven echoes inside my ears

cedar roots crawl through my bones

my heart pounds like a thunderous running of the deer

My head

full of butterflies

each one a dream

wishes on wings 

long ago I daydreamt the ancient memories

engraved across my soul

here in my numinous nemeton

by magic, by alchemy

Nature becomes me,

the lungs, ears, bones, and heart of me

— Kathy Harmon-Luber