Author, Cindy Steffen, former Bellbrook business owner and Spring Valley resident, introduced and read excerpts from her new book of poetry, ‘Sightings: Twenty-One Poems Observed’ at Winters-Bellbrook Community Library on November 18. Poetry fans enjoyed the telling of how the poems came to life and shared the author’s love of nature.
“My book is really just a compilation of poems that I’ve written over the years. My book starts off with a poem about myself as a retreat owner and ends with a poem about my father who was the one that really helped develop my love of nature,” Steffen said. “I never really set out to write poems. I just set out to take a walk. It’s usually during these walks that a phrase will come into my head or a word or concept. Then, I get back home and just go with it.”
Steffen never really thought about putting her poems together for other’s enjoyment until her husband was writing his own book about his search for his birth parents, ‘A Family Apart: Sleuthing the Mysteries of Abandonment, Adoption and DNA’. With her husband’s encouragement and their desire to support each other, they launched their books together in December of 2014 with Greyden Press. Her poetry is meant to bring a new light to nature through words, feelings and emotions. Twilight Song is a poem from her book:
Evening shadow falls heavily over the
last birds calling, as if the black lid of a
grand piano slowly closes over its strings.
Their songs, fading in the dusk,
trail sweetly from the trees, then
hush, as the Wood Thrush begins its solo.
They perform no finale’ at twilight.
That grand end they leave to the stars,
silent and spread against a dark velvet curtain.
Orchestras bowing in their seats.
“I really believe that one of my missions in life is to get people to slow down and get into nature. People do a lot of romantic getaways and stuff like that, but that’s a different focus than a spiritual, nature retreat,” Steffen said. “Nature can grab us and take us to another place- it has an effect on us. It calms us. I don’t think people reflect on their lives as much as they should. With nature, you step into it and it grabs you by the throat and makes you think about your life. Many people don’t want to stop life’s treadmill to take time for nature.”
Her love of nature began with father-daughter walks around the neighborhood when she was a child. Her father taught her the meaning of nature and taught her things like what the Native Americans used to do. She remembered one time, when she was about 10 years old, her father took her to a nearby stream and predicted that one day it would disappear because a housing development. At the time, she couldn’t imagine anyone covering up a beautiful stream. His prediction was correct.
“My poems aren’t meant to just talk about nature. They’re to help people see nature in a new light,” Steffen said. “I love the quote, ‘An uneffective life is a life not worth living.’ I really believe that statement.”
Her father’s love of nature developed her deep love of God’s creations. Her and her husband, Craig purchased 27 acres in Adams County years ago and fell in love with it. It wasn’t until they started going to nature classes that they learned how diverse the property was and how fortunate they were to own such property. They decided to offer their property to visitors and create a retreat. Heart by Nature Retreats at Prairie Pond Woods was developed as a Women’s Personal & Group Retreat from April to October each year. Steffen hosts and facilitates retreats for artists, crafters, writers, birdwatchers, naturalists and individuals seeking spiritual reflection and growth, solitude and connections. This property has been the inspiration of her current collection of poems.
“As a naturalist and a poet, Cindy interprets the things she observes in nature in unique and reflective ways. This book of poetry captures her ordinary, yet always extraordinary, encounters with the natural world while on countless walks on her own retreat property, or at other beautiful places she has visited,” Greyden Press representative said. “This book will inspire you to slow down, pay attention, and think about your environment in new ways.”
Steffen has a degree in Fine Art and Natural History from Ohio University. She worked as a graphic and interior designer and was the owner of Art by Nature in Bellbrook across from Dot’s Market. She was also an interpretive naturalist at Aullwood Audubon Center in Dayton and Glen Helen Nature preserves in Yellow Springs. She now follows her naturalist interests through her retreat visitors and her writing.
‘Sightings: Twenty-One Poems Observed’ can be purchased on her website at www.CindyKSteffen.com. For questions, please contact Cindy Steffen at email@example.com.