One reason I’ll never be John Steinbeck or somebody like that is because, for me, there are basically two kinds of trees: pine trees, and the other kind. Birds come in “big” and “small.” (I could probably ID a parrot, but the opportunity rarely presents itself without it being obvious, like, there’s a sign that says “African Grey Parrot (Zambia)” or somebody just told you “that’s Aesop, my pet parrot.”) To me, there are sunflowers, and there’s red flowers, and bluish flowers, and purplish ones that go like this (here I make a flute shape with my hand), and there’s probably daffodils or daisies or something. Grass is grass. Prickly stuff that grows on a hill along the highway is “prickly stuff on the hill.”
In short, it seems like the great authors can wax poetic about the garagantolia blossoms showering the paths and the boulevard lined with aranchlestes and the rik-rik-rik of the three-billed boose in the white-barked hockeyes. I myself cannot. Nature, to me, is composed of elementary forms. I speak about it like a child. There is grass, dirt, watery areas, weeds, trees, bugs, and those things (pointing at a copse of something that’s somewhere between bushes and trees).
Sometimes I aspire to be better at it, studying bird books or books that fan out and show you all the different kinds of leaves and needles and what trees they belong to, but my mind is a sieve for such details.
So why am I setting a book in a woodsy area where I’ll quickly bore readers with my upteenth reference to “some bushes and stuff” where Mr. White would have painted a lovely word-picture with references to white ash trees and very specific kinds of nymph being surprised as they molt? I dunno. And to be fair, I’m equally incompetent at describing urban landscapes.