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.
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
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