“Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land that caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”

This quote comes at the end of Chapter 4, after Kya has gone to school and after she healed her foot from an injury, using natural remedies her mother taught her before she left. Kya is longing for the comfort, solace, and companionship of her mother, but in her absence, Kya turns to the land. Together with the salt water and the cool mud, Kya heals the injury in her foot. She gets comfort from the eagle when she’s frightened of getting lockjaw. And she rejoices with the land when she is healed, heading back toward the beach where she was injured, proud of herself, her courage restored. Though Kya misses her mother tremendously, after months pass without word from her, Kya turns to the marsh to heal her mother’s absence as it healed the wound in her foot. She learns to move through the ache of her absence and to rely on the marsh to parent her.

“If anyone understood loneliness, the moon would…Nature seemed the only stone that would not slip midstream.”

This quote takes place at the end of Chapter 30, after Kya has discovered that Chase is engaged and after she survives her venture into the wild waters of the Gulf Stream. In her anguish about Chase, Kya nearly capsizes in the rough waters and finds a beautiful sandbar filled with rare seashells. She feels saved and schooled by this little sliver of land, returned to herself. When she returns home to the marsh, she reflects on her own loneliness in a poem by her alter ego Amanda Hamilton. She describes how the moon follows her footsteps and is, in essence, her only companion amidst miles of loneliness surrounding her on every side. She doesn’t believe she can count on anyone except the moon to understand the depth and magnitude of her loneliness. Here, like the sandbar that saved her, nature is the only constant in Kya’s life, the only force she can consistently turn to for solace and companionship.

“Kya never had her troop of close friends, nor the connections Jodie described, for she never had her own family. She knew the years of isolation had altered her behavior until she was different from others, but it wasn’t her fault she’d been alone. Most of what she knew, she’d learned from the wild. Nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected her when no one else would.”

This quote takes place in Chapter 57, after Kya and Tate have settled down and Kya is nearing the end of her life. Owens describes solitary walks that Kya still takes and how, though she doesn’t have connections and close friends in the traditional sense, she feels the connections of nature. Though she is different from everyone else, and that isolation still causes her pain, she knows she has found a kind of family in the natural world. Even after she’s built a life with Tate, she still goes to visit the family of the land alone, suggesting she feels real kinship with nature, even when she has the choice to be with other people. What’s more, nature has taught her more than traditional education or any other person, more even than Tate. This both contributes to her being different than other people and gives her the kind of unique perspective that allowed her to create her books and to survive and even thrive under seemingly impossible circumstances.