Purple coneflowers and other native plants in front of house

Photo and article by Rose Moore, Master Naturalist

As a naturalist and lover of natural landscapes, I am always seeking ways of making my home landscape look it's best while using native plantings.

It all started 15 years go when building my house. I was determined to stick with a non-traditional landscape around the foundation of the structure. After all the house was in a particularly beautiful natural setting so why not use that to showcase native plantings.

photo of rainbow colored paper arranged in a design

I have a confession to make. I am a data nerd. I love a good spreadsheet, seeing all those numbers (data points) neatly arrayed. But I am also an artist. And at first glance those two would seem to be incompatible. But they are not.

light streaming through trees

 “I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

When was the last time you noticed the light? I mean really noticed it. Not the, “oh it’s getting dark, I should turn on a light” notice, think deeper than that. As the days grow shorter, I find myself studying light. As a trained artist and photographer, perhaps that is not so surprising. Photography quite literally means, “Light writing”. But what is light?

If you have watch any television, scrolled through a social media feed or spent a few moments reading tweets, then you know that political ads, opinions, and half-truths have built to a fevered pitch, this first week in November. And depending on the ad, we are told we are facing Armageddon, the next great depression or a raging out of control pandemic. It is enough to make one crawl under the covers and hibernate.

looking up from the ground into the sky between tall trees with green leaves

Sitting in the woods, I hear the sound of fall through the voice of the trees. Trees talk in swooshes, crackles and this time of year in a rustle. One only has to hear this distinctive sound to know the seasons have truly changed. As Walt Whitman wrote, “Go and sit in a grove or woods, with one or more of those voiceless companions, and read the foregoing, and think.” So as I sit here listening to fall, I contemplate the trees.

items from a science classroom. pencils, a beaker, and science textbook

Sitting in Miss Hoover’s seventh grade science class I often thought how magical science seemed. Secrets of how things worked and behaved or how adding one chemical to another changed the color, all of it seemed almost unbelievable. In fact, it was more than just a magic trick. All of it was the result of painstaking observations, questions, experiments and data, always data.

By Joy Clough, Cook County Master Naturalist, July 2020

We think we have five senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste. But there are more: imagination, curiosity, memory, insight, play, and emotions that range from fear to surprise to delight. Engaging our outer and inner senses fosters our health, and nature is just waiting to help us become more alive. 

lady journaling outside in a notebook

 “Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Old Trees

By Rose Moore, Master Naturalist

It all started a month ago when I was working on a painting of Giant Sequoias after a trip I took recently to Yosemite National Park. In gathering information about these trees I discovered scientists believe the oldest specimen alive today is about 3,500 years old. Those that were logged in the past were recorded at over 5,000 years old. They are among the oldest living things on earth.  Suddenly, my interest was sparked in finding out how old are the trees on my property.

leather journal and a pencil

Are you sketching in your journal? If not, maybe you should be. I know, you are thinking to yourself, “But I can’t draw.” Or “I can’t even do a stick figure.” Am I right? Whether you are good or bad at sketching is beside the point. The important part is the act of drawing, itself.

Drawing is good for you. It is exercise for the eyes, hands, and mind and it can be a form of visual thinking, an outlet for emotions, and a record of a moment in time.

dirt path through trees

By Rose Moore

Master Naturalist – January 2020

One of the greatest pleasures I have in my daily outdoor adventures is discovering new things.

Just because it is winter, there is no absence of wonders to be found.

Recently, on a mild, snow - less morning, I decided to veer off my usual trails and search for signs of life in other areas of the property.