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
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
And the red shoulder screams to the wind for
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
The angled wing tips of geese taking their
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
As the moon grows again and the animals speak.
Astronomy & Meteorology
National Oceanic &
National Geophysical data
National Aeronautics and
(daily local sky chart)
U.S. Naval Observatory
(including moon phases)
Virtual Reality Moon Phase
Mauna Loa Observatory
United States Geological
The Tsunami Page
World of Optics
Discussion of Non-Renewable
Energy & Petroleum
Federal and State Agencies
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
U.S. Fish and Wildlife
USDA Forest Service
National Park Service
Conservation & Preservation
Natural Areas Association
Land Trust Alliance
“Green” construction design
Rocky Mountain Institute –
& “natural capitalism”
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
trees and the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. The most important
of these are the root-fungus relationships called
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
dripline. Do 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.
Audubon: Painter of
Birds in the Wild Frontier
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
Critters Up Close
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
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.
Admiral Byrd Alone in the Antarctic
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
alone in some of the harshest conditions. This telling text is complemented by
Walter Krudops dramatic
and also contains excerpts from Byrd's firsthand account of survival. This
book is the perfect addition to a unit on Antarctica.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Creatures of the Deep:
In Search of the Sea’s Monsters and the World They Live in
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
Deep in a Rainforest
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
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
El Nino: Unlocking the
Secrets of the Master Weather-Maker
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
Environmental Detective: Investigating
Nature with Cards
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
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
Fire on the Mountain:
The True Story of the South Canyon Fire
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
The Ten Trusts: What We
Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
I hear and forget
I see and remember
I do and I understand
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
Sunday, October 17 at 3:30
Gar Creek 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
Saturday, October 23 at 7:00
Shannon Bayou Nature Center
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
…….. 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
The trail at the Aroma Preserve winds through several types of habitat,
including upland sand prairie, woodland and wetland areas, and down to the
Saturday, November 20 at 3:00 P.M
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
1.1 miles south of I-57
on Waldron Road in Aroma Park
On Duane Blvd in
On County Road 3570