Swatting in Paradise


We believe that a good naturalist walks with ever-growing attentiveness, curiosity, wisdom, wildness, and creativity. We have found that drawing, writing, and other contemplative and creative exercises help us to grow in these ways. That’s why I love Jack Collom’s definition of poetry as “questions without answers.” “Without answers” means that the mind keeps on seeking.

A naturalist keeps seeking. That’s why we spent last weekend walking, writing, crawling, sweating, squinting, gazing, swatting, drawing, and photographing our way through Iowa’s Loess Hills:

A bridge arches
Through this pregnant fog to
A ghost wilderness.
Elderberry nodding gently
Flowers crisp and brown, poised
For purple plumping.
(Shaun Warkentin.)



Lopseed by Becky Colgrove.


Wuck wuck wuck , diddle doo.

Chickle tweep: hooah wee-oo-wee….

Here: hear cheer what?

Piddle pee dee dee dee; teacher greep!

(Birds of Honey Creek.)



leaf shadow drawing

Leaf Shadow by Sarah Berkeley.


Unfettered birdsong
Behind a wall of white
Impenetrable fog
Obscures paradise.
Upturned feather
Shard of rock
Mottled sunshine
Cicadas’ response
(Alysia Alger)



Saffron-winged meadowhawk. (Robert Smith)


And we’ll do it again this weekend and through late summer into the fall. You can find us somewhere in the Loess Hills for our Sunday morning series: Walking and Writing, Art and Curiosity. Details here.