Keeping Winter Hours


On the path to mystery

Following Oliver and Thoreau at Hitchcock Nature Center. (Robert Smith).

We must re-ally ourselves to Nature every day. We must make root, send out some little fibre at least, every winter day. (Henry David Thoreau, Journal, December 29th, 1856.)

I would not talk about wind, and the oak tree, and the leaf on the oak tree, but on their behalf. I would talk about the owl and the thunderworm and the daffodil and the red-spotted newt as a company of spirits, as well as bodies. I would say that the fox stepping out over the snow has nerves as fine as mine, but better courage. (Mary Oliver, Winter Hours, 2000.)


Finding nature and better courage in the Loess Hills. (Robert Smith.)

The rich biodiversity and topography of the Loess Hills takes on a subtle vibrancy in winter, and we will find ourselves sometimes cold but always enlivened as we trudge and slip steeply up and down. The ridges shine with long vistas while the deep ravines keep secrets, but not too tightly. Good boots are the thing.


On Sunset Ridge at Waubonsie State Park. (Joseph Phillips)

And good companions and teachers. This winter we have a new teaching and research site to explore. As we continue our work at Hitchcock Nature Center, we will add Waubonsie State Park to our Sauntering and Citizen Science activities. We will re-ally ourselves with Nature as Thoreau would say, and find the better courage of winter spirits, as Oliver would have us do.

Winter in the Loess Hills: 2016/17 citizen science and Saunters: click here.