Fall 2004
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Text Box:  
                                                                                    October/November 2004

















The Animals Speak


The moon is growing and the animals speak.

As a woodchuck sits high in a bent willow tree

Refusing to relinquish its riparian view

Above a flowing river, reflecting blue.


And growling raccoons are filled with plight

As I settle in close to watch the fight.

And down the tree a claw marked trail

Face coming first and then a tail.


Without concern he gives a stare

What will he teach as he disappears

Into the many holes that make up his maze

With a final stare from the masked one’s face.


As the herons watch for curiosities sake,

The frogs all retreat to their puddle sized lakes

And the red shoulder screams to the wind for awhile

And my lips turn up slowly revealing a smile.


For society asks, what path do you choose

Do you not wish to prosper,

Are you some kind of fool

Do you think life’s that simple,

Are you living a dream?

And when I start to believe them,

The animals speak.


The woodpeckers tap in the trees high above.

The gray burst of energy from fleeing doves.

The cold-blooded creatures with the sun in their faces

The angled wing tips of geese taking their places.


The curled whiteail doe in her bed of grasses

Reminds me of why I shan’t follow the masses.

For nature holds the answers to the questions I seek,

As the moon grows again and the animals speak.


                                                ------ Nighthawk





Astronomy & Meteorology



National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration



National Geophysical data center



Hubble Telescope



National Aeronautics and Space Administration



Astronomy site


http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/skychart/article_1220_1.asp  (daily local sky chart)



U.S. Naval Observatory (including moon phases)



Virtual Reality Moon Phase Pictures



Mauna Loa Observatory



Climate Change





United States Geological Survey



Paleomap Project



Cascades Volcano Observatory



The Tsunami Page



General Science



Molecular Expressions: World of Optics



Mobius Strip



Discussion of Non-Renewable Energy & Petroleum



Federal and State Agencies



Illinois Department of Natural Resources



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



USDA Forest Service



National Park Service


Conservation & Preservation



American Rivers



Chicago Wilderness



Natural Areas Association



Land Trust Alliance



Wildlands Project



Ocean Conservancy








“Green” construction design



Rocky Mountain Institute – sustainable               

energy & “natural capitalism”



National Sustainable Agriculture           

Information Service



Permaculture International Ltc.




Sustainable agriculture, ecology




More on sustainable living







            This Spring I attended a conference discussing the importance of allowing the heart and brain to work together when making decisions.  Also discussed were yoga and meditation for becoming balanced.  For me everthing gets sorted out when I walk in the forest and allow myself to absorb the energy of the myriad species that are growing together in a dance that is millions of years old.  This is a dance that allows for the very existence of human life.   Scientifically this dance is called symbiosis.

            Probably the best example of symbiosis that is directly related to humans is the bacteria in our digestive systems,  without which we could not assimilate food.  This same critical relationship exists

between trees and the beneficial microorganisms in the soil.  The most important of these are the root-fungus relationships called mycrorhyzae.

            Without these vital relationships, trees cannot live.  It would be impossible for them to absorb the essential elements from the soil.  Newly planted trees often struggle, especially in the disturbed soils of our subdivisions, where all topsoil is removed before construction. The soil environment simply does not support these vital microorganisms.

            What can be done to lessen the negative effects of compacted disturbed soil?  You may have guessed it if you’ve read any of my other articles.  Yes …. its MULCH! Mulch actually contains some spores of the beneficial fungi.  So mulch all newly planted trees with composted wood chips from 3-4” from the base of the trunk out to the driplineDo not hump the mulch up around the trunk, nor let the mulch touch the trunk of the tree!  Little mountains of mulch humped up around the trunk do more harm than good.  The reason we mulch is first to benefit the below ground parts of the tree and to support the vital symbiosis.

            Something else I would like to encourage: group native species and use the diversity which can be found in native forests.  This may take a little bit of study.  You could take some identification books to the state park and see what species grow naturally in close proximity.  However, beware of exotic plants that are choking out native plants.  The most common in Kankakee County is an Asian honeysuckle.  These are actually on the state’s list of noxious weeds. 

            I guess the main point of this article is that the more we can duplicate the quality of the forest soil, the healthier our trees will be.  Bringing a little bit of the native forest to our residiences and commercial properties certainly can enhance the urban forest.

Rob Frothingham,

Certified Arborist

Landscape Architect.



Text Box: Recommended Books on Earth Science 
PBS website: teacher’s reswww.pbs.org/teachersource/recommended/rec_books_science.shtm






Audubon: Painter of Birds in the Wild Frontier
By Jennifer Armstrong and Jos. A. Smith
Published March 2003
Grade Level: PreK-2, 3-5
Audubon’s paintings and journals reveal an America long past: flocks of passenger pigeons so large they darkened the sky for hours, Sycamores so big their hollow trunks could shelter 9,000 swifts, and packs of hungry wolves driven off by flocks of geese. The events described in this illustrated biography took place from 1804-1812. Extended author and illustrator notes explain their techniques and suggest resources for further study.


Backyard Detective: Critters Up Close
By Nic Bishop
Published August 2002
Grade Level: PreK-2, 3-5
Common critters, 125 insects and other small animals appear in this ingenious field guide to the backyard. Creatures found in seven areas including on the ground, around flowers, and in tool sheds are presented in two-page representative settings. Two pages of explanatory field notes follow. A section called “Be a Backyard Detective” supplies hints and project ideas. The book features a picture index. Bishop’s photographs are amazing. Wait until you read how he created them

The Big Caribou Herd: Life in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
By Bruce Hiscock
Published March 2003
Grade Level: PreK-2, 3-5
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the last completely wild places on Earth. Follow a caribou band from the Porcupine River Valley as it joins the larger herd migrating to the calving grounds on the Beaufort Sea. Hiscock’s realistic watercolors portray the changing plant and animal life along the route. A final section provides additional information on many of the animals encountered, a description of the caribou year, and an author’s note.

Black Whiteness: Admiral Byrd Alone in the Antarctic
By Robert Burleigh
Published February 1998
Grade Level: 3-5
Students age 7-11 will be amazed as they read how in 1934 Admiral Richard Byrd spent a dark winter in frigid Antarctica. He recorded the weather and confronted life completely alone in some of the harshest conditions. This telling text is complemented by Walter Krudops dramatic illustrations and also contains excerpts from Byrd's firsthand account of survival. This book is the perfect addition to a unit on Antarctica.

By Jim Murphy
Published November 2000
Grade Level: 6-8
From March 11-14, 1888, before Doppler radar, before long range weather forecasting, before snowplows, the East Coast was hit by hurricane-force winds and so much snow that every city from Virginia to Canada was shut down. Hundreds died. This history of a natural disaster is filled with maps, etchings, and photographs.

By Diane Siebert
Published August 2000
Grade Level: PreK-2, 3-5
This poetic introduction, describes the creation and evolution of limestone caves. Children 4-8 will learn about flowstone and draperies, helicites and rimstone, and the animal life that inhabits cave entrances and their deepest regions. The preservation of the fragile cave environment is also addressed.

The Change in the Weather: People, Weather, and the Science of Climate
By William K. Stevens
Published December 1999
Grade Level: 9-12
How has human behavior affected climate and are we too late to do anything about it? In this book, high school students are introduced to the science of climatic change; meet the international community of scientists trying to determine if we have entered a new era of climate; and explore the links between humanity and climate, from human evolution to the destruction of civilizations.

Chasing Science: Science as Spectator Sport
By Frederik Pohl
Published December 2000
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
This memoir by an award winning science fiction writer takes readers on a tour of astronomy, space exploration, volcanoes and earthquakes, water, cave sand tunnels, fossils, and archaeology and more. Part science primer, part travel guide, this book is for middle school students and up.

The Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours
By Jane Goodall
Published October 2001
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8
Since the early 1960s, Jane Goodall has studied the chimpanzees of Gombe on Lake Tanganyika. This autobiography outlines her career from enthusiastic 22-year-old in a largely unmolested forest to her present efforts to protect what little remains of Africa’s forests and chimpanzees. The book features marvelous full-page photos, many close-ups, of chimps in their natural environment.

Cloud Dance
By Thomas Locker
Published September 2000
Grade Level: PreK-2, 3-5
Anyone familiar with Locker's previous books knows what to expect with a book devoted to clouds. His illustrations resemble the work of the Hudson River painters. Children 4-8 can follow two figures, one old, one young, as they move through a landscape dominated by clouds at different times of the day and under different weather conditions. An appendix provides general information about clouds and images of different cloud types.

The Complete Book of the Seasons

By Sally Tagholm
Published September 2002
Grade Level: PreK-2, 3-5
After the introductory chapter discussing different seasonal changes, each season is examined in turn. Activities, festivities, and natural phenomena are highlighted. A final section is a calendar of seasonal events.

Cool Careers for Girls As Environmentalists
By Ceel Pasternak
Published October 2001
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Girls interested in environmental sciences will read about eleven women who share their interest and who have made careers pursuing it. Fields covered include botany, naturalist, biologist, electrical engineer, farm manger, entomologist, researcher, and more. Each entry examines the background, training, and career path of each environmentalist. A final section suggests ways girls can get started on their own careers.

Creatures of the Deep: In Search of the Sea’s Monsters and the World They Live in
By Erich Hoyt
Published October 2001
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
This photo-packed introduction to deep-sea life is divided into three sections providing a tour through the ocean layers; a selection of ocean creatures, from sharks to dragonfish; and finally a descent to the longest mountain range, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and hydro-thermal vents. If you are a monster movie fan, wait until you see the deep-sea dragonfish, then sleep soundly knowing the largest is only a foot long.

Deep in a Rainforest
By Gwen Pascoe, Veronica Jefferis, and Monica Jefferis
Published January 1999
Grade Level: PreK-2
Lush illustration introduces very young readers to rainforest animals and habitat. A good basic introduction to the rainforest environment, presented as a puzzle inviting young readers to find hidden objects and animals.

Spix's Macaw: The Race to Save the World's Rarest Bird
By Tony Juniper
Published November 2003
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
The Brazilian Spix’s Macaw is one of four blue macaws, so rare they can sell for $40,000 on the black market. The last wild Spix’s Macaw lived alone for fourteen years after his mate was captured by poachers in 1987. This exciting and moving account tells of international attempts to prevent its extinction.

El Nino: Unlocking the Secrets of the Master Weather-Maker
By J. Madeleine Nash
Published March 2002

Grade Level: 9-12
El Nino and La Nina are driven by cyclic temperature fluctuations in the Pacific Ocean that lead to world wide disasters as seemingly unrelated as an outbreak of Rift Valley fever in East Africa and uncontrollable forest fires in Borneo. Nash has provided a history of the scientific observations that have added to our understanding of El Nino.

Environmental Detective: Investigating Nature with Cards
By Doug Herridge
Published October 1998
Grade Level: PreK-2, 3-5
This hands-on book will make a junior detective out of any student by looking closely at "evidence" all around them in their natural world. Among the activities are testing for acid rain, making an ant farm and starting a mini-compost pile. Kids will not only learn how to investigate but, will learn that they can make a difference, too.

The Extinction Club
By Robert Twigger
Published July 2002
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
The Milu, an exotic Chinese deer with the neck of a camel, horns of a stag, feet of a cow, and tail of a donkey, became extinct in the wild but survived in Bedfordshire, England. In 1986, part of the herd protected by the Duke of Bedford was returned to China. This quirky tale is not your typical natural history, but then the Milu is not your typical critter.

Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire
By John N. Maclean
Published October 1999
Grade Level: 9-12
In July 1994, a series of errors led to the deaths of fourteen firefighters in a forest fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado. Maclean examines why experienced men and women, smoke jumpers from Montana, hotshots from Oregon, and helitacks were trapped by a blowup, a violent, widespread burst of flame. This book is appropriate for high school students.

The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love
By Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff
Published October 2003
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
This book is an argument for a closer connection to the natural world and a more ethical attitude toward other creatures. It is an effort to create a safer and more tolerant world. Ten chapters in two voices, Goodall’s and Bekoff’s distinguished by plain type and italics, elaborate their ten guidelines for human behavior. The book includes a large list of related Websites.







On Loneliness and Solitude
       You should spend time alone.  Not just minutes and hours, but days, and if the opportunity presents itself, weeks. Time spent alone returns to you a hundredfold, because it is the proving ground of the spirit.  You quickly find out if you are at peace with yourself, or if the meaning of
your life is found only in the superficial affairs of the day.  If it is in the superficial affairs of the day, time spent alone will throw you back upon yourself in a way that
will make you grow in wisdom and inner strength.  We can easily fill our days with activity.
       If we are not careful, we begin to mistake this activity for meaning.  We turn our lives into a series of tasks that can occupy all the hours of the clock and still leave us breathless with our sense of work left undone.  And always there is work undone.  We will die with work undone. Thelabors of life are endless.

       For many people, solitude is just a poet's word for being alone.  But being alone, in itself, is nothing.  It can be a breeding ground of loneliness as easily as a source of solitude. Solitude is a condition of peace that stands in
direct opposition to loneliness.  Loneliness is like sitting in an empty room and being aware of the space around you.
It is a condition of separateness.  Solitude is becoming
one with the space around you.  It is a condition of union. Loneliness is small, solitude is large. 

Loneliness closes in around you, solitude expands toward the infinite. Loneliness has its roots in words, in an internal conversation that nobody answers; solitude has its roots in the great
silence of eternity.
       Solitude is about getting the "I" out of the center of our
 thoughts so that other parts of life can be experienced in their fullness.  It is about abandoning the self as the focus of understanding, and giving ourselves over to the great flowing fabric of the universe.  Though this may
sound mystical and abstract, the universe has an eternal hum that runs beyond our individual birth and death.  It makes us part of something larger.  In solitude alone do we become part of this great eternal sound.
       Nature is the clearest source of solitude.  If you have the wisdom and the courage to go to nature alone, the larger rhythms, the eternal hum, will make itself known
all the sooner.  When you have found it, it will always be there for you.  The peace without will become the peace within, and you will be able to return to it in your heart
wherever you find yourself.
       In this awareness the whole world changes.  A tree ceases
to be an object and becomes a living thing.  We can smell its richness, hear its rustlings, sense its rhythms as it carries on its endless dance with the wind.
       In solitude silence becomes a symphony.  Time changes from a series of moments strung together into a seamless motion riding on the rhythms of the stars.  Loneliness is banished, solitude is in full flower, and we are one with the pulse of life and the flow of time.
       The awareness we experience in solitude is priceless for the
peace it can give.  It is also the key to true loving in our relationships.  When we have a part of ourselves that is firm, confident, and alone, we don't need another person to fill us.  We know that we have private spaces full of goodness and self-worth, and we grant the same to those we love.
The mountain is not restless in its aloneness.  The hawk tracing circles in the sky is not longing for union with the sun.  They exist in the perfect peace of an eternal present, and that is the peace that one finds only in solitude.  Find this peace in yourself, and you will never know another moment of loneliness in your life.

From The Book Simple Truths, by Kent Nerburn


I hear and forget

I see and remember 

I do and I understand

          …Ancient Proverb

On Trail …..

Nature Programs at your Forest Preserve

All programs are offered without charge.  To schedule a program or activity for a class, group or club, call Jean Hurrle at 815-549-9072.  Maps of the sites are on our website at www.krvfpd.org.



Sunday, October 17 at 3:30 P.M.

            Gar Creek Prairie

§Prairie Walk – visit 16 acres of  restored native grasslands & learn about some of the plants that are so uniquely adapted to the extremes of climate typical of the open prairies of North America.


Saturday, October 23 at 7:00 P.M.

            Shannon Bayou Nature Center

§Campfire, S’mores, and Owling with John  Baxter

            A family favorite each Fall, with a campfire, s’mores, cider, a bit of music.  John Baxter, of the Kankakee Valley Audubon Society, will tell us about owls and their calls.  Bring the whole family, and an instrument to accompany John’s harmonica. 


Saturday, October 30 at 7:00 P.M

Gar Creek Prairie

§Moonlight Walk

…….. Visit the prairie and riverbank woodlands  on an autumn  night close to the full  Harvest Moon (10/28).


Saturday, November 6 at 3:00 P.M

Aroma Preserve, in Aroma Park

§Autumn Nature Walk

            The trail at the Aroma Preserve winds through several types of habitat, including upland sand prairie, woodland and wetland areas, and down to the Kankakee River. 


Saturday, November 20 at 3:00 P.M

Waldron Arboretum

§Autumn Woodland  Walk



Forest Preserve Sites


Shannon Bayou:

Location of the office and Nature Center

3301 Waldron Road in Aroma Park


Gar Creek Prairie:

About one-half mile east of Route 45 on River Road adjacent to the Kankakee Community College


Aroma Preserve and Environental Education Area:

Heiland Road, 1.4 miles south of Hwy. 17 East


Waldron Arboretum:

1.1 miles south of I-57 on Waldron Road in Aroma Park


Strasma Grove:

On Duane Blvd in Kankakee



On County Road 3570 West






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last updated on August 6, 2013