Walking Wild Circles


Nature is a slippery business and an odd concept at best, and sometimes an impediment to the human quest for intimacy with the natural world. “Nature” often means the world apart from human ambition and assumes that we are alienated from the source of our life and being. Many of us feel this alienation and of course it is real, but thinking of “nature” as other and apart from human life can dim the vision of human life as part of the web of life. To become more intimately connected to this web is to become more human.

ephemeral cirlcles -billie shelton

Making circles deep in the woods after new snow. ( Iowa’s Southern Loess Hills, photo by Billie Shelton. )

Creativity brightens this vision, increases this intimacy because in creative acts we participate in the generative energies of the cosmos in a fundamental way. That is why we write poems and make ephemeral art in quiet places where these wild energies can be clearly and deeply experienced. Thoreau called it becoming “part and parcel of nature.” We call it The Naturalist School.

Winter is good for that. That’s why we gather to walk quietly on ridges and in ravines or on a frozen stream, to write, to make art in the snow, to read to each other and to thaw our feet by the fire.

To find wildness within.

— Jack Phillips

Waking the Wild: poetry as path to wildness. Sunday, February 24th in Fremont County, Iowa. Contact Jack thenaturalistschool@gmail.com.