Featured Blog: Rurality

This week’s featured blog is Rurality. Meet Karen, the host and blogger who brings rural Alabama to your desktop. Karen is a former electrical engineer who fled the corporate world in 1996 and started a small handmade soap business. A move to the country reignited her interest in photography and nature.

What got you started with blogging?

I have to admit that what made me first want to blog was reading this in a newsletter: “I have a web site, but most of my new online customers find me through my blog.” But the blog quickly took on a life of its own, and I have gone on to write almost nothing about soap.

One of my favorite former hobbies was writing to pen-pals, and blogging is an extension of that for me. It’s like a series of letters to friends in far-away places. The journaling aspect is also helpful – I can look back to see what year we bought Lakenvelder chickens, or when the earliest Bloodroot blooms in the woods, or which Asian melon we liked best.

My favorite part of blogging has been meeting like-minded people, whether they’re wildflower nuts, nature enthusiasts, gardeners, homesteaders, or photographers. I also get a real kick out of seeing a news story, and saying to my husband, “I already read about that on so-and-so’s blog!”

How did you pick the name of your blog?

It came to me one day while walking in the woods! I’d been reading blogs for some time, and had considered starting one myself. Thinking of the title was actually a huge impetus – I wanted to snag it before someone else did!

What’s unique or different about your blog, and to what do you attribute your popularity?

It’s a lot more smarty-pants than most? I don’t know. I try to identify and explain my nature and rural observations, but in a lighthearted way – not just dry facts. I guess my goal is to make it interesting to people who wouldn’t necessarily be considered big nature nuts.

I think I was lucky enough to get a few links early on from a few (very kind) popular bloggers. Plus, late as I was to start blogging (Jan 2005), there was not an overabundance of nature bloggers at that time.

Which are your favorite posts from the blog?

Ack! That is tough! In terms of nature posts, I like these

and the game-cam posts are very popular

Any comments on being part of the nature blogger community?

I love being able to blather on about nature to people who are of a similar mind. I’m sure everyone here is familiar with that look… that look you can get, when you shush someone to exclaim, “Listen! It’s a brown-headed nuthatch!” Nature bloggers don’t give you that look.

Has blogging changed how you think about nature?

Not the way I think about it, but definitely the way I learn it. For example, lately I posted pictures of elevated poo platforms – actually Swamp Rabbit latrines. I’d noticed them in the woods here before, for years actually. But the act of putting the photo on the blog made me investigate them, because I don’t want to just put up a picture and say, “Isn’t that strange?” I feel compelled to try to explain it, if I can. So when I started digging, I learned that only Swamp Rabbits have this behavior. Before the blog, I confess that I’d probably have left it at the “isn’t that strange” stage.

Any words of wisdom for new nature bloggers?

Post when you feel like it. But I don’t recommend leaving the blog untouched for months at a time, like I did once last year. (Still apologizing for that!)

If you had it to do over, would you start a blog?

Definitely. Only sooner – I wish I’d begun the first day we moved to the country.

Anything else you’d like me to ask you, or that you’d like to volunteer without being asked?

I almost forgot to mention one of my other favorite things about blogging: when someone reading knows more than I do about a subject, and enlightens or corrects me.

When I said, “unusual dew drops,” someone said, “That’s guttation!” When I talked about birds panting, someone let me know, “That’s Gular fluttering!” When I mused on what the heck kind of animal with a round mouth was chomping on the wild primroses, someone spoke up: “That’s the work of leaf-cutter bees!” I love it so much when this happens, that now I’m not averse to posting something that stumps me, to ask if anyone else can help.

You can reach Karen by email to blog [at] naturalimpulse [dot] com

Upcoming featured blog: Nature Remains.


  1. February 16, 2009 at 8:07 AM | Permalink

    She is the Queen of all Blogs!

    I patterned the look of my blog after the clean lines of hers.

  2. February 16, 2009 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    Pablo’s right: Rurality does occupy a position of preeminence among American nature blogs, I think because of the mix of subjects and the easy marriage of downhome/folksy with scientific curiosity, good writing, and terrific wildlife photography. It’s always a challenge for nature enthusiasts to reach beyond the small audience of fellow nature-nuts, but I think Rurality manages it, judging by some of the comments.

  3. February 16, 2009 at 10:06 PM | Permalink

    I think it’s Pablo who first introduced me to Rurality, and I’ve enjoyed reading her posts over the years. It is a particular talent to write in a way that’s broadly appealing.

    Congratulations to Karen on succeeding in doing so.

  4. February 16, 2009 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

    Thanks y’all, I’m blushing!

  5. March 18, 2009 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

    I cannot think of a more entertaining and user-friendly nature blog anywhere! (And her soap rocks, too! ;-)