Pottsville man: Latest book 'a reflection of life and my connection with nature'
The work of Mother Nature is all around us. From the brisk temperatures on a winter morning to the multilayered sky created by a setting sun, nature affects all of our senses every day.
John C. LaRizzio, Pottsville, details the connection between people and nature in his new book, "Silhouettes and Seasons: Essays and Images of a Personal Nature."
The book is a collection of journal entries over a seven-year period of LaRizzio's life when he was rediscovering a personal attachment to nature that was lost to the corporate world. It is about a journey of self-expression that opens readers to views LaRizzio hopes will inspire their own spiritual and philosophical beliefs.
"It is a reflection of life and my connection with nature," LaRizzio said.
The 178-page book, published by Dog Ear Publishing, Indianapolis, is comprised of LaRizzio's journal entries from 1994 to 2000. The entries are dated, allowing the reader to piece together the author's feelings and realizations throughout the years.
According to a review from Kirkus Reviews, "In poetic fashion, the book highlights the religion of Mother Nature and prods modern-day unbelievers to examine their own creeds."
LaRizzio is a native of Nesquehoning but has lived in Pottsville since 1972. The essays in the book were inspired by the world around him, specifically Mount Laurel Cemetery near Bulls Head Road. It is a place LaRizzio said he frequently walks.
It is in these intimate times that LaRizzio links his natural surroundings with self-expression. Although it may sound complex, LaRizzio said it's just about immersing yourself in the world around you.
"I set out to capture the ordinary, not the extraordinary," LaRizzio said.
LaRizzio said he developed his connection with nature as a child. It was strengthen by the works of Henry David Thoreau, whom he quotes in the book.
One such passage by Thoreau that LaRizzio hopes people incorporate in their lives can be found on page 176. It reads: "Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influences of each â¦"
LaRizzio resigned his life to the seasons after 35 years in the corporate world. A graduate of Penn State University, he worked as a project engineer, engineering manager and director of engineering at a major corporation in the United States. He retired to pursue other interests.
One of those interests was photography. The pictures scattered throughout "Silhouettes and Seasons" are from LaRizzio's collection. He said many were taken in the Pottsville area, specifically Mount Laurel Cemetery.
Another interest was his writing.
Two years ago, LaRizzio published his first book, "Hey Milkman!", also through Dog Ear Publishing. The book chronicles his years delivering milk as a teenager. He said he delivered milk six days a week, every week of the year.
"It was my goal to know what every customer wanted," LaRizzio said.
He said he would just walk into the customer's houses and leave the milk in their fridge. At 22 cents a quart, the customers left their money sitting on the porch. It was a system that would not work well in today's world but it is one of the primary reasons we wanted to write the book.
"It's about a different time and different way of life," LaRizzio said.
One of the challenges LaRizzio faced with his writing was finding a publisher. It took research and a bit of luck.
"It's very difficult to get somebody's attention when you are a nobody," LaRizzio said.
His writing caught the attention of Dog Ear and a marriage was born.
Although he had 20 years worth of journal entries written, LaRizzio decided to write "Hey Milkman!" first because it was easier for him. While he is proud of the book, it was "Silhouettes and Seasons" that was close to his heart.
"This was the book I wanted to write," he said.
He hopes that people can find the connection with nature that he has rediscovered. He said looking around at neighborhoods you can see a clear absence of children playing outside.
"I notice that there is no dirt. We used to play in the dirt, dig holes in the dirt," he said.
While there are many opinions on why people have lost touch with the natural world, LaRizzio points to technology.
"I think we are isolating ourselves from it," he said.
He wants people to know that nature is not just a forest or grassy field. It is everywhere.
"Nature is in your backyard," he said.
Once people begin to realize that concept and see how the world flows around us, he said they will see that life is abundant.
"We need to know we are not alone," he said.
"Silhouettes and Seasons: Essays and Images of a Personal Nature" is available on his website, www.writingsbyjohnl.com, Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. An e-reader edition is also available on Amazon.