Self-published author writes Sanibel book as family legacy
“I want to write and self-publish – it would be a year’s compilation of my e-mails to you each day – or most days – we could begin now if you would forward each e-mail back to me! I will also copy each one to myself. What do you think?”
The first couple of sentences in Doris Hardy’s self-published new book, “Letters From Clam Song,” establish the foundation for what has become an inspired, family-focused and whimsical narrative between herself and cousin Jane Hardy. Their correspondence over the course of a year-and-a-half, compiled into a book, was done for the benefit of Doris’ two great nephews, Jack Hardy Wurth, 4, and Henry James Wurth, 2.
“I wanted them to have a picture, as it were, of how I lived with my miniature dachshund Chauncey during that time,” Hardy explained. “I also thought they would come to know what it was like for a single woman to live in a very natural setting.”
A longtime Sanibel visitor who moved here on a full-time basis after her home – which she calls Clam Song, named after a poem penned by a visiting friend – was built five years ago, Hardy was part of the initial group of like-minded environmentalists who helped create the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. Since establishing residency, she spends most of her time volunteering at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and enjoying the nearly pristine, natural setting of her home nestled alongside Clam Bayou.
“Can’t say that anyone would really be interested beyond family members – my feeling is that I reflect a portion of our society today – for women – for living with nature and perhaps impact both Jack and Henry someday if they read it!” Hardy noted in her initial e-mail to her cousin, on June 26, 2007.
According to the first-time author, it is her hope that the book teaches her two great nephews several valuable lessons: to learn about the necessity of protecting our natural environment, of spending time and enjoying it, learning from its inhabitants as well as the importance of volunteering.
In “Letters From Clam Song,” a 446-page chronicle in which each of Doris and Jane’s e-mails are individual chapters, the former school Director of Athletics and Department Chair of Health and Physical Education offers some interesting – and sometimes mundane, according to the writer – details of her day-to-day life on Sanibel, from encounters with wildlife to funny interactions with her adorable dog.
Among those tales are stories about Chauncey’s laser surgery on her head (“I call this her Harry Potter birthmark!” Doris laughed as she pointed to the tiny scar on Chauncey’s scalp) to the pair’s adventures in her kayak, fuzzy brown passenger in tow.
“There’s also a story about her obsession with Bounce sheets,” she added. “She just rolls and rolls around on them. They make her fur so soft.”
Also included is a tale about a pair of kitchen scissors that went missing for a few days. One afternoon, a crow flew into a window on the side of her house. Doris went outside and tended to the stunned bird, which eventually flew away. A couple of days later, her missing scissors were found on the ground near her bird bath. A coincidence? Hardy doesn’t seem to think so.
“I do think that we’re all in this together,” she said. “Maybe the crow was just saying thank you.”
When the materials for the book were finally gathered together and sent off for printing, Hardy was hoping that members of her family might enjoy reading about her life in Southwest Florida. But after she sent off the initial shipment of copies of “Letters From Clam Song,” she was pleasantly surprised by the reaction she received.
“I think that they were just stunned because nobody knew I was doing this,” said Hardy, who hopes to have copies of the book at both the Sanibel and Captiva libraries soon. “My cousin thinks it’s just great, and a photographer friend of mine has shown it to all of her friends. It’s on her coffeetable.”
Whether or not Hardy decides to write another book is an intriguing question to the writer, who added, “It was a very enjoyable experience. Maybe something with inspire me again.”