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Photo by Keith Borgmeyer
Author Cathy Salter talks about loving adventure abroad and at home.
What’s your background?
Travel, teaching, and a love of the arts and other cultures have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in an Air Force family that moved often, and I was a Peace Corps volunteer for three years in Thailand in the late 1960s. Both experiences opened my eyes to other worlds and unbound possibilities.
After returning from Southeast Asia in 1970, I began teaching geography and history, and I eventually moved to Los Angeles, where I taught in an inner city junior high school for 13 years. L.A. is also where I met my husband, Dr. Christopher Salter (Kit, for short), who was a geography professor at UCLA. Together, we worked for over a decade in both California and Washington D.C., heading the National Geographic Society’s Geography Education Program.
In 1988, we moved to Missouri when Kit was hired as chair of the MU Geography Department, and we bought a 7-acre farmlet in southern Boone County that we named Breakfast Creek. For the next 16 years, I experienced country living, and I began writing a newspaper column in 1994 about the world as I observed it both near and far. I called it “Notes From Breakfast Creek.” After moving to Albuquerque in 2005 and returning seven months later, we moved to a 5-acre parcel of meadow, woods, creek, and glade that we call Boomerang Creek. My newspaper column, now called “Notes from Boomerang Creek,” appears weekly in the Columbia Daily Tribune and the Boone County Journal.
I have published two books of collected essays: “Notes From Breakfast Creek: A Look at the World,” in 2008, and “Notes From Boomerang Creek,” in 2015. I am also a board member of Columbia’s Unbound Book Festival.
On a typical weeknight, we could find you:
Sharing a meal and a glass of wine with Kit, talking over the news of the day, and reading one of the books written by the 30 national authors invited to the 2017 Unbound Book Festival, which will be at Stephens College April 21 and 22.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
Burmese political activist, diplomat, author, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi. We are the same age, and I am continuously inspired by her courage, grace, inner faith, and strength as a political activist for the rights of the Burmese people.
How did you become interested in art and writing?
I have loved art and reading for as long as I can remember. But I did not fully appreciate art until I first attempted to paint during a trip to Italy in 2010. I have been a letter writer and journal keeper since childhood, but I began writing seriously after witnessing and being deeply affected by the Great Midwest Flood of 1993.
How do you channel your creativity?
Cooking and gardening provide a quiet window of time alone where I am constantly gathering threads that are later woven into stories when I am writing. Painting and writing both begin with a blank canvas, and it is on a blank canvas or page that these threads — images, conversations, landscapes, places visited — are woven together.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Life. The smell of coffee Kit has begun brewing in the kitchen. Our two senior cats, Fanny and Pooh, who awaken ready to be fed each morning at precisely 6 a.m.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
There is no shortage of interesting people, places, ideas, and landscapes. Stay interested and engaged with people, the arts, and what is going on around the world. How you see the world matters.
From what do you draw strength?
I draw strength from having grown up in a loving family and having had the wonderful good fortune of marrying Kit, who is my rock and partner in life and writing.
What is your passion?
Writing is a passion that enables me to explore, see, and be engaged in the world — both up close and at a distance.
What does it mean to be a strong woman?
When I think of strong women, I think of women who believe in something powerfully and have the initiative and courage not only to speak out about their passions and beliefs, but also to play an active role in realizing these passions. I love and admire women who are engaged in the world, speak their minds, and record their stories as painters, poets, journalists, authors, and activists.
What advice would you give to a younger version of you?
Age is not a number. It is an attitude. You are as young as you think. See the world. Learn from your experiences. Stay engaged all of your life. And treasure friendships and family always.
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
At the age of 71, I decided to get back into my old Speedo bathing suit and start swimming again after more than half a century. I’m now swimming three to four days a week in a wonderful saltwater swimming pool in Columbia and feel great as a result.