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Brief-Form Post #27: Special Fungi Finds at Goldsmith SWS!

I am pleased to add the 27th of my GBH Brief Form Posts (Less than three minutes to read!) to my website. I tend to get a bit wordy with my routine Posts. I don’t want my enthusiasm for thoroughness and detail to discourage readers. So I will publish these brief Posts regularly.

 

Brief-Form Post on my November 22, 2023, Special Fungi Finds at Huntsville’s Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary!

 

On November 22, 2023, I visited the Sanctuary with my two Alabama grandsons, Jack (age 16) and Sam (age 9). We considered our wanderings as all-purpose, searching with curiosity for the beauty, magic, wonder, and awe of Nature. We found ample objects within our criteria. I focus this brief-form post on members of the fungi kingdom we encountered. I remind you that this 400-acre property is a Sanctuary. We did not consider this a foraging venture. We took only photographs, gathered only memories, and left only footprints.

Fungi, a kingdom all their own, fascinate me, and have for decades. Without their decomposition, plant biomass would not so readily recycle to enrich our forest soils.

I entered the edible wild mushroom aficionado domain tentatively just three years ago. Since then, I have learned to identify, collect, prepare, and consume a broadening selection: chanterelles, oysters, honeys, wood ears, jellies, chicken and hen of the woods, and lions mane. Lion’s mane is choice — the filet mignon and caviar of the fungi kingdom. We viewed this magnificent lion’s mane with awe and amazement. I wondered why such a specimen seems to appear only when it is off limits to harvesting.

 

Because I hold such reverence for this species (Hericium erinaceus), I felt delight that Jack and Sam showed genuine enthusiasm in finding such a large and perfect specimen. A week later, we three visited another property where we could have collected. They evidenced disappointment when our search left us empty handed! This was indeed a spectacular find, pure white, super fresh, and mockingly edible.

 

I spotted the specimen above. Sam found another one at ground level within 15-20 minutes. I believe both boys will carry the lions mane imprint from that day forward.

 

Jack found another lion’s mane before we departed the riparian forest.

We identified this six-inch diameter Trametes aesculi, a nonedible, near the trailhead.

 

Sam stood beside an oak log, a recent blowdown, covered with Hypoxylon canker, yet another decay fungus.

 

Another edible, witches butter, a jelly fungus, populated this small fallen oak branch.

 

I accept the challenge of distilling these Brief-Form Posts into a single distinct reflection, a task far more elusive than assembling a dozen pithy statements. Today, I borrow a relevant reflection from John Muir, one of the truly great minds of conservation and environmental antiquity:

  • There are no accidents in Nature. Every motion of the constantly shifting bodies in the world is timed to the occasion for some definite, fore-ordered end. The flowers blossom in obedience to the same law that marks the course of constellations, and the song of a bird is the echo of a universal symphony. Nature is one, and to me the greatest delight of observation and study is to discover new unities in this all-embracing and eternal harmony.

 

NOTE: I place 3-5 short videos (15 seconds to three minutes) on my Steve Jones Great Blue Heron YouTube channel weekly. All relate to Nature-Inspired Life and Living. I encourage you to SUBSCRIBE! It’s FREE. Having more subscribers helps me spread my message of Informed and Responsible Earth Stewardship…locally and globally!

 

 

 

My Knee-Hobbled Superficial Exploration of Alabama’s Sipsey Wilderness!

Fellow retired forester Chris Stuhlinger and I visited the Sipsey Wilderness within Bankhead National Forest on December 5, 2023. Scheduled for total left knee replacement surgery on January 23, 2024, I agreed to the trip with no small level of anxiety. I told Chris I would be content to wander near the parking lot, exploring Nature intensely close by if the trail terrain exceeded my knee-hobbled ability to explore extensively. He could hike the River Trail to his heart’s content; I would be fine until he returned.

Sipsey River Picnic Area

 

We parked along the State highway at the Sipsey River Picnic Area, from which we crossed under the bridge to enter the Wilderness upstream.

 

The signage is fitting with the scenery. I appreciate the aesthetic form of the bridge curving south across the Sipsey River. The image emphasizes the signature of the canyon, the river that can rage with runoff fury, and the special sanctity of a Federal Wilderness.

 

Entering the Wilderness

 

The stone monument lies just 100 feet upstream of the bridge and memorializes the Sipsey’s 1975 Wilderness designation.

 

The trail passes gently 20-40 feet above the river on its north bank (view downstream). Although not apparent in this image, the streambank trail occasionally challenged my knees, dropping steeply.

 

 

I recorded this 33-second video from the point where I had no choice but to turn back to the parking area, a decision that I made with great frustration.

 

A lifelong woodsman, former marathon competitor, and committed gym rat, I accepted the inevitable when I turned around. This was the coup de grace! An online dictionary confirmed my choice of the noun:

A coup de grâce is a death blow to end the suffering of a severely wounded person or animal. It may be a mercy killing of mortally wounded civilians or soldiers

A coup de grâce can also be used more broadly to refer to any conclusive or decisive moment, such as the final straw that breaks a camel’s back, or the last nail in a coffin.

Granted, I may be exaggerating the life and death severity, yet the blow to my psyche is real. Over a 27 month period, I will have experienced the following physical difficulties:

  • Total left shoulder replacement
  • Minor stroke
  • Triple bypass surgery
  • Transient ischemic attack
  • Bilateral inguinal hernia surgical repair
  • Total left knee replacement — January 23, 2024

I am determined to recover my ability to wander the forests and trails of north Alabama. I want full license and legitimacy to write, speak, and reflect on Nature-Buoyed Aging and Healing!

Just ahead in each of the photographs below, the steep drop-off without footholds or saplings for gripping prevented my passage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An empty ache from conceding defeat did not dampen my enthusiasm for gathering fresh observations, reflections, and photographs as I retreated. I even experimented with my iPhone, exploring my perspective preference with these two images. The photo at left derives straight from the camera, the lens peering uphill at about 35 degrees. The angle draws the more distant features toward the vanishing point; the trees appear to lean together. The image at right employs a finishing application that physically adjusts the image to eliminate the lean. The vanishing point, with the manipulation, in fact vanishes. I will continue to review my personal preference. For the moment, I am a lifelong resident of a world that operates with a vanishing point. I prefer the image below left.

 

I recorded this 49-second video as I headed back to the trailhead.

 

The Sipsey River ranges from placid to full fury. Along the short stretch I traversed, log jams evidenced the drastic flushes that transform the wild canyon.

 

Bigleaf magnolia leaves, recently dropped, are North America’s largest simple leaves, carpeting the forest floor in places. The intricate and pronounced venation is yet another feature of Nature’s exquisite artwork.

 

Nature study raises countless questions. Why does this species bear such a large leaf? Why does sweetgum produce star-shaped leaves? Why needles for pine and delicate needle fronds on cypress? I certainly can’t offer specific answers. However, I can turn to Leonardo da Vinci who 500 years ago thought deeply about such things:

Nature is full of infinite causes that have never occurred in experience.

Nature alone is the master of true genius.

There is no result in nature without a cause; understand the cause and you will have no need of the experiment.

Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.

Nature varies the seed according to the variety of the things she desires to produce in the world.

 

Facing the Reality of My Knee-Hobbled Hiking Limitations

 

Chris continued his trail wanderings. I explored the picnic area and environs. The late morning could be considered beguiling, a perfect blue sky and soft breeze. Yet the sign at right suggested that the peace and serenity were not guaranteed. Seeming safely above the current water level, the parking lot must occasionally flood.

 

 

The old bridge, weakened by time and flooding, has recently suffered a near fatal blow from a falling streamside giant. I timed the photograph at left to capture a truckload of chip’n’saw logs on the new bridge above, bound for processing. Wood dominated the day: log jams on the river; trucks transporting logs; a tree smashing into an old bridge; trees defining a Federal Wilderness.

 

 

 

I wanted to cross the old bridge. Instead, heeding the candy-striped flagging tape, I stayed off the damaged span. I refused to tempt fate.

 

A Late Fall Botanical Survey

 

Allow me a quick review of the plants I photographed while awaiting Chris’ return. A North Carolina Extension online resource described sweetleaf (or horse sugar) as a hardy deciduous shrub or small tree that may grow 20 feet tall. In nature, it can be found in moist bottomland forests, pocosin edges, mesic forests, ridgetop forests, and sandhills. The leaves are alternate with a smooth margin and yellow underside. The leaves are edible and sweet to the taste. In early spring, small, white flowers mature. The small tree produces a 1/2-inch, orange-brown drupe that matures in late summer.

 

I have known both American holly (left) and eastern hemlock since my adolescent days in western Maryland.

 

 

 

Oakleaf hydrangea did not grace the forests of my youth. I have since fallen in love with its oaky leaves, exfoliating bark, white flowers, drying seed heads, colorful autumn leaves, and dense interwoven branches.

 

I’ve said often that we really don’t experience a winter season here in north Alabama. Instead, our extended autumn slowly transitions to spring, with a few winter days scattered about to remind people that this is truly the dormant season. Partridge berry (left) is a vibrant green winter groundcover. My more northern orientation has a hard time reconciling deep winter with lush green foliage. Lyreleaf sage (right) is another plant that grows happily during the winter, then produces some of the earliest white flowers of the spring (winter).

 

Christmas fern (left) is aptly named, adding a rich verdant signature during the darkest day of the season. Anise root foliage is strikingly spring-green. It’s red stems likewise suggest spring growth.

 

These are not the bitter days of a relentless dormant season, where days stretch to weeks, and to months of frozen ground, disabling freezing precipitation, and crippling cold. Compared to some place where I’ve lived, these are the halcyon days of winter.

Thoughts and Reflections

 

I offer these observations:

  • Nature alone is the master of true genius. (Leonardo da Vinci)
  • There is no result in nature without a cause. (da Vinci)
  • Although physically limited by bad knees, a surgical fix is within reach!

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Inform, and Reward you!

 

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all blog post images are created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2024 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://eepurl.com/cKLJdL

And Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

A reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied by untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and understand their Earth home more clearly.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Four Books

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature.

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love sauntering and exploring Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grandkids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few other lives… sow some seeds for the future

 

All three of my books (Nature Based LeadershipNature-Inspired Learning and LeadingWeaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship with the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

I now have a fourth book, published by Dutton Land and Cattle Company, Dutton Land & Cattle: A Land Legacy Story. Available for purchase directly from me. Watch for details in a future Post.

 

 

 

A First Visit to Alabama’s Wind Creek State Park!

Bound for the November 25, 2023, Iron Bowl, fellow retired forester Chris Stuhlinger and I visited Wind Creek State Park, a 1,444-acre gem on the shores of Lake Martin near Alexander City. The park’s 586 campsites rank it first among the state’s 21 State Parks. Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River retains the 44,000-acre Lake Martin, a scenic delight and fishing paradise.

We arrived at the park, a first visit for both of us, just after lunch, meeting Wind Creek Park Naturalist Dylan Ogle.

Wind Creek

 

I recorded this 44-second video, evidencing a perfect autumn afternoon. Nearly every stop within the park showcased the bright sky, surrounding lake, the tree-lined shore, and happy visitors. I elected to record the video without narration. The video itself tells the tale of place, context, whispering breezes, and lapping wavelets. Any narrative I might have offered would have added net negative value.

 

I am a forester, therefore it goes without saying that I love forests and trees. We’ve all heard the ancient caution of not seeing the forest for the trees. On most of our lake-based state parks, deep forest cover begins at the immediate shoreline. The Wind Creek shoreline is irregular, punctuated by gravelly peninsulas, populated by individual trees or a copse like the loblolly pines below left. Unlike trees in a closed forest, these pines stand in full sunlight, emphasizing their beauty against the full sun. The loner at right casts its shadow across the gravel, seeming to disappear at water’s edge.

Wind Creek

 

This peninsula hosted a picnic pavilion and an observation silo, with both lower and upper decks accessible to visitors.

Wind Creek

 

With left knee replacement surgery scheduled for January 23, I summited only the first level stairs (with handrail). I did not want to risk stumbling on the climb to the higher level with my bum knee.

Here’s my 52-second video from the tower.

 

The view from the observation deck was good. The next level would have been spectacular. I apologize for falling short (which is a lot better than falling). My surgeon has advised for years, “Opt for the surgery when knee degradation prohibits you from doing what you love.” Climbing to the top tier is among the routine activities I want to return to after surgery. I learned painfully at the next day’s Iron Bowl that navigating stadium stairs up and down without handrails is exceptionally difficult. I don’t like this old man feeling!

The following four photos swing clockwise from SW to SE, each one including a slice of Lake Martin. I vow next time to ascend to the upper deck!

Wind Creek

 

I hadn’t realized the intensity of blue until I began writing the narrative — incredible!

Wind Creek

 

Back on the ground, I positioned myself using the loblolly below left to block the low-horizon late afternoon sun. Chris (center), Dylan (left), and Georgios Arseniou, Auburn Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist of Urban Forestry, who met us at the park, stand within a pine copse.

 

Here is my 46-second video of Dylan introducing himself.

 

Dylan joined the park staff as Naturalist this past summer. His enthusiasm for Nature, the outdoors, and Wind Creek State Park is contagious. I am a tireless proponent of the tripartite Alabama State Park System mission of recreation, conservation, and education. I take great satisfaction in watching the education and interpretation leg strengthen and expand. I look forward to returning to Wind Creek next summer.

I can’t resist the combination of glorious sky, tranquil water, and luxuriant trees and forests. I have a weakness for paintings that look like photographs…and photos that resemble paintings. There was an abundance of such scenes November 24!

Wind Creek

 

Special Features of Wind Creek State Park

 

Wind Creek invites equine campers, accommodating their needs with 20 dedicated camping sites.

Wind Creek

 

Glamping, where stunning nature meets modern luxury, is catching on across the outdoor enthusiast world. I’m intrigued, but my 72+ year old notion of roughing it extends only to accommodations with an indoor bathroom within a few steps of a queen size bed! Judy and I enjoyed our camping days and we are content to leave them in the past.

Wind Creek

 

Although the calendar said late November, the scene depicted late summer enthusiasm, excited and fully engaged families, and the enticing aromas from barbeque grills. Memories of camping with Mom, Dad, and siblings generated a set of moist eyes. I blamed it on the wood smoke!

Wind Creek

 

I recorded this 33-second video as the sun began dipping to the horizon. Note the full moon rising, listen for the unique call of a belted kingfisher, and enjoy the setting sun.

 

A Short Saunter into the Speckled Snake Trail

 

The daylight fades early this time of year. We reserved just enough time on this first visit to Wind Creek for a short stroll into the Park’s Alabama Reunion Trail, which begins alongside the Speckled Snake Trail.

Wind Creek

 

I don’t intend to add a rich narrative and interpretive monologue. I offer these photos just to give you a taste of the Park’s terrestrial gifts. The trail begins in a loblolly pine dominated upland.

Wind Creek

 

The forest type quickly transitions to mixed pine and hardwood as the trail dipped into a draw and then back to an upland..

Wind Creek

 

The Park employs prescribed fire to manage forest understory and influence future composition.

Wind Creek

 

In the fading light I photographed the unusual pump handle configuration of a sourwood tree (below left) and the bronze marcescent leaves of a mid-story American beech.

Wind Creek

 

Before turning back to the trailhead, we encountered a stand of switch cane, a native bamboo in the Poaceae (grass) family found in the coastal plain and piedmont regions of the eastern US from Virginia to Florida where it grows in the understory of moist forests and wetlands.  It typically grows upright 2 to 6 feet in height but can approach 12 feet when conditions are favorable (North Carolina Extension online source).

Wind Creek

 

I am eager to experience more of what Wind Creek State Park offers when I return.

 

Alabama State Parks Foundation

Thoughts and Reflections

 

I offer these observations:

  • A dedicated Park Naturalist magnifies the experience, learning, and enjoyment for Park visitors…of all ages.
  • Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better (Albert Einstein).
  • I can’t resist the combination of glorious sky, tranquil water, and luxuriant trees and forests.

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Inform, and Reward you!

 

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all blog post images are created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2024 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://eepurl.com/cKLJdL

And Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

A reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied by untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and understand their Earth home more clearly.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature.

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grandkids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few other lives… sow some seeds for the future

 

 

 

All three of my books (Nature Based LeadershipNature-Inspired Learning and LeadingWeaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship with the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

I now have a fourth book, published by Dutton Land and Cattle Company, Dutton Land & Cattle: A Land Legacy Story. Available for purchase directly from me. Watch for details in a future Post.

 

 

 

Brief-Form Post #26: Beaver Dam Serenity at Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary!

I am pleased to add the 26th of my GBH Brief Form Posts (Less than three minutes to read!) to my website. I tend to get a bit long-winded with my routine Posts. I don’t want my enthusiasm for thoroughness and detail to discourage readers. So I will publish these brief Posts regularly.

 

Brief-Form Post on my November 14, 2023, Visit to the Beaver Dam along Hidden Spring Creek at Huntsville’s Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary!

 

I visited Huntsville, Alabama’s Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary on November 14, 2023, with Dr. Marian Moore Lewis, author of Southern Sanctuary. We paused for a few minutes to enjoy the sights and sounds at the beaver dam along Hidden Spring Creek at the iron and concrete bridge just downstream of Jobala Pond. I focus this photo essay on the beaver dam.

I learned long ago that there is grandeur in Nature’s seemingly small wonders and that many items of Nature’s magic lie hidden in plain sight.

Here is the 0:34 video I recorded at 10:32 AM.

 

Still photographs capture single elements of Nature’s beauty, magic, wonder, and awe. Yet even as a picture is worth a thousands words, a video may exceed the power of a photo by the same magnitude. A thousand is to one as a million is to a thousand. I will continue to supplement my photo essays with short videos!

 

Amazingly, observers had recorded only one and one-half inches of rain over the prior nine weeks, yet Hidden Spring Creek seemed to carry a normal late summer flow. That evidence suggests that a rich and ample aquifer supplies Hidden Spring and its outflow creek.

 

Had I not chosen to visit the Sanctuary during the trailing end of an extended drought I would not have appreciated how robust Hidden Spring is.

I cherish the special Nature of the entire Sanctuary…and I anticipate tossing a bag chair over my shoulder so that I can sit quietly at the beaver dam, luxuriating in its gurgling, observing bird and other life nearby, and watching clouds and shadows slip across the cerulean firmament.

I accept the challenge of distilling these Brief-Form Posts into a single distinct reflection, a task far more elusive than assembling a dozen pithy statements. Today, I borrow a relevant reflection from John Muir, one of the truly great minds of conservation and environmental antiquity:

  • A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart.

 

NOTE: I place 3-5 short videos (15 seconds to three minutes) on my Steve Jones Great Blue Heron YouTube channel weekly. All relate to Nature-Inspired Life and Living. I encourage you to SUBSCRIBE! It’s FREE. Having more subscribers helps me spread my message of Informed and Responsible Earth Stewardship…locally and globally!

Nature-Inspired Life and Living; Nature-Buoyed Aging and healing!

 

 

Wetland Mitigation Update from Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary

I visited Huntsville, Alabama’s Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary on November 14, 2023, with Dr. Marian Moore Lewis, author of Southern Sanctuary. We sauntered through the western side of the Sanctuary, observing and reflecting upon all manner of seasonal life we encountered from Hidden Spring to Jobala Pond to the wetland mitigation project underway in the mid-property meadows and fields. I focus this photo essay on our superficial examination of the mitigation.

This black gum seedling, planted during the 2022-23 dormant season, is now emerging from its tree shelter. It has survived its initial growing season and escaped the ravages of foraging rabbits and mice. From this day forward it must contend with grazing deer until it grows out of their vertical reach. Most of the shelters we examined contained living seedlings, of various species (black gum, willow, redbud, and diverse oaks).

 

Red oak occupies this tube. It will likely reach into aerial freedom next spring.

 

I photographed this initial planting area in February 2023, when the shallow constructed wetlands stood at full water capacity. Because in mid-November 2023, we had gone since mid-August with little to no rain, we saw bone dry soils across the mitigation area.

 

The meadow vegetation had reached seasonal dormancy. Because our northern Alabama fall months are frequently dry, native plants can handle periodic droughts. Fortunately, the tree seedlings in this first (2022-23) planting tranche enjoyed an adequately moist spring and early summer, hence their likely survival through this fall drought.

 

 

The second planting, east of the first, appeared to be underway when we visited. The area evidenced extreme drought, with soils bone-dry and cement-hard. The tree shelters below right held seedlings already desiccated and likely dead. Planting should have been delayed until after fall rains brought drought relief.

 

This willow seedling (below left) lay on the ground at a drilled planting hole, deader than a proverbial door nail. The willow seeding at right stands beside a wooden stake. It is too shallowly planted, its root collar and some of its root mass two inches above soil surface level. However, it doesn’t matter. The tree is dead.

 

I recorded this two-minute video on the site. I refer incorrectly to the seedling beside a planting tube as a willow. Instead, it is actually a redbud.

 

Like other doomed seedlings in this area, the oaks lying within this scraped future wetland depression are deceased. I hope the project managers have made alternate plans, to include holding seedlings in nursery beds awaiting fall rains and adequate soil moisture in the Sanctuary fields. I learned long ago during my forest products industry days that unless seedlings are carefully tended and properly planted in soils that contain adequate moisture to sustain transplant vigor, the planting will not succeed. This fall drought planting window failed all criteria.

 

I am not pointing fingers or assigning blame. I simply visited this year’s mitigation chapter at the trailing end of an extended drought. A week later I measured 2.63″ of rain, and another 3.4″ since then through December 17, 2023. Soil moisture levels are approaching seasonal norms, but far too late to overcome the experienced negative forces. Importantly, it’s not too late to plant seedlings held and tended in nursery beds.

I offer several observations and applicable lessons. Any forestry operation is subject to the vagaries of Nature. Managers should be prepared to deal with extremes and variances from normal. Though a plan may have called for planting this second tranche in the October/November time frame, managers should have delayed, awaiting overdue autumn rains.

I predict that unless alternate plans were made to replant with freshly lifted seedlings now that rains have begun, this second tranche planting will be a total failure. Leonardo da Vinci, a sage and practiced observer of Nature, said 500 years ago, Nature never breaks her own laws. Those who planted these seedlings apparently expected Nature to break a natural law that I learned five decades ago as a young practicing forester: Nature demands that plugged seedlings require adequate moisture both pre- and post-planting, well-packed friable soil, and suitable growing conditions (e.g., avoid excessively high late season temperatures at planting time.

I will continue to monitor the wetland mitigation project, including these 2023 plantings. Again, the seasonal rains have resumed. The Flint River will likely flood these fields at least once over the dormant season. Casual observers may not know that the fields suffered through an extreme drought from mid-August through mid-November. They may wonder why the tree shelters house no or very few living trees.

I have been unable to secure detailed information about the wetland mitigation project. I hope that City personnel have such planning and implementation records. I would like to see survival records for the first tranche planting, as well as 2023 planting records. The project is expensive. Are managers tracking success? Failure? Progress?

Please know that I have no direct or implied oversight of this project. I am merely a very interested observer. I view the Sanctuary as one of my special places. I applaud Margaret Anne Goldsmith for the original gift of approximately 300 acres that enabled establishing the Sanctuary. I admire Marian Moore Lewis’s expertise and passion for publishing Southern Sanctuary. We three share a keen interest in this incredible Nature legacy project.

I leave you with the 15-minute video telling the Sanctuary legacy story that Bill Heslip directed and I produced three years ago.

 

Thoughts and Reflections

 

I offer these observations:

  • Nature never breaks her own laws. (Leonardo da Vinci)
  • Any forestry operation is subject to the vagaries of Nature. Managers should be prepared to deal with extremes and variances from normal.
  • Past average monthly rainfall gives no comfort to a seedling planted during this year’s extreme drought. 

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Inform, and Reward you!

 

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all blog post images are created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2024 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://eepurl.com/cKLJdL

And Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

A reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied by untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and understand their Earth home more clearly.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature.

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grandkids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few other lives… sow some seeds for the future

 

 

 

All three of my books (Nature Based LeadershipNature-Inspired Learning and LeadingWeaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship with the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

I now have a fourth book, published by Dutton Land and Cattle Company, Dutton Land & Cattle: A Land Legacy Story. Available for purchase directly from me. Watch for details in a future Post.

 

An Aging Riparian Hardwood Forest on The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

Late afternoon on September 22, 2023, I decided for the first time since my June 19, 2023 triple bypass surgery to bushwhack alone into my favorite riparian hardwood forest at the nearby Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. I’m a student of this forest, attempting with each visit to learn more about its history, composition, dynamics, and future. I employ a woods-wandering technique I call sauntering. I borrow the term from John Muir and a contemporary of his, Albert W. Palmer, who published A Parable of Sauntering in 1911:

There is a fourth lesson of the trail. It is one which John Muir taught me [during an early Sierra Club outing].

There are always some people in the mountains who are known as “hikers.” They rush over the trail at high speed and take great delight in being the first to reach camp and in covering the greatest number of miles in the least possible time, they measure the trail in terms of speed and distance.

One day as I was resting in the shade Mr. Muir overtook me on the trail and began to chat in that friendly way in which he delights to talk with everyone he meets. I said to him: “Mr. Muir, someone told me you did not approve of the word ‘hike.’ Is that so?” His blue eyes flashed, and with his Scotch accent he replied: “I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike!

“Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”

John Muir lived up to his doctrine. He was usually the last man to reach camp. He never hurried. He stopped to get acquainted with individual trees along the way. He would hail people passing by and make them get down on hands and knees if necessary to see the beauty of some little bed of almost microscopic flowers. Usually he appeared at camp with some new flowers in his hat and a little piece of fir bough in his buttonhole.

Now, whether the derivation of saunter Muir gave me is scientific or fanciful, is there not in it another parable? There are people who “hike” through life. They measure life in terms of money and amusement; they rush along the trail of life feverishly seeking to make a dollar or gratify an appetite. How much better to “saunter” along this trail of life, to measure it in terms of beauty and love and friendship! How much finer to take time to know and understand the men and women along the way, to stop a while and let the beauty of the sunset possess the soul, to listen to what the trees are saying and the songs of the birds, and to gather the fragrant little flowers that bloom all along the trail of life for those who have eyes to see!

I shall remain a dedicated saunterer from this day forward. My weathered knees no longer allow serious hiking. I insist on walking in the woods rather than walking through the forest. I also embrace Muir’s wisdom about experiencing life: The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.

HGH Road Riparian Hardwood Forest

 

Saunter with me as I transit the riparian hardwood forest south of HGH Road on a mid-September afternoon. I’ll begin with a 39-second, 360 degree sweep within the mature forest. Note that my narrative refers to the sweep as 380 degrees…the price I pay for accepting a first take without review. I’ve stopped seeking perfection in my short, unrehearsed videos. I find that a relaxed, non-scripted video seldom falls short of being adequate…occasionally even good.

 

High quality timber does not dominate these long-unmanaged forests. This 30-inch diameter red oak is deeply decayed. Occupying nearly a tenth of an acre of crown space, the tree has no commercial timber value. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service manages these lands and their forests for values unrelated to timber.

 

Although not contorted by decay, this hickory is hollow to the core, a perfect den tree for squirrels, woodpeckers, bats, and assorted other wildlife.

 

This 32-second video depicts the peace, birdsong, and soft breezes within this 90-year old stand:

 

Ample dead and down woody debris characterizes these 90-year-old forests growing on rich riparian soils in northern Alabama. This tree uprooted at least a decade ago, lifting a root ball wasting away at my feet, and falling directly away. The log is well on its way to becoming humus and soil organic matter,

 

This individual did not blow over and lift a root ball; it died standing and its dead superstructure subsequently broke off at ground level, falling away from me. Little of the fallen bole remains. The carbon cycle spins rapidly in our climate! Aerobic decomposition is the rule. No future peat or coal deposits, nor even a thick organic layer in the topsoil.

 

This large oak pulled up a massive root ball about ten years ago. Fine and medium roots have long since decayed. The root ball soil has fallen or washed into a shrinking and softening pile. The fallen bole, and its cracked and hollow trunk, have already shed all bark and outer wood. Although far beyond my means and technology, I’d like to see a 10-15 year time lapse as this once mighty oak dissolves (not literally, but metaphorically) from solid wood to dust to soil organic matter.

 

I mused about what long ago injury opened the trunk to the decay fungi that hollowed the bole. Was a lightning strike responsible for the vertical wound, shattering the trunk and creating the infection court through which fungal spores entered to begin internal decay? That isn’t the only unsolved mystery. I believe, with deeper contemplation, that the tree stood hollow with no externally visible vertical scar and split. Instead, when the tree finally yielded to gravity, its still impressive mass slammed into the ground shattering the rind, giving the impression that while vertical the tree trunk furrow permitted visual entry to its hollow core.

 

All fine branches in the crown (below left) have decayed. In fact, the crown consists only of the twin major forks. The base of the left fork evidences an opening that appears unrelated to shattering from impact. I view it as a den entry point for squirrels that inhabited the hollow tree. The fallen tree skeleton, as do all trees, stands, and forests, has a compelling story to tell. I’m glad my bushwhacking led me to its final resting place…to contemplate and decipher its tale, to examine the hints left on-site.

 

Nature provides many hints for us curious Nature enthusiasts. I relish these adventures in Nature-sleuthing. Sometimes, I celebrate when a hint leads unequivocally to a fact…a certainty. Too often, however, my conclusions fall within a zone of speculation. I’m okay with speculation, a mental process demanding deep thinking, tapping my decades of forestry study and deep woods experience, and forcing me to communicate the exercise via these Great Blue Heron photo essays. Fortunes won’t be saved or wasted as a result of my ruminations. No one is hurt if I have misjudged the circumstances that brought the tree to the ground. Many people who read these words might wonder why I don’t pursue some useful avocation…like golf, fishing, or antiquing. The truth is, Nature sleuthing is my hobby.

I’m providing hints and evidence (photos and videos) to allow you to draw your own conclusions about the nature of this mature riparian hardwood forest. I recorded this 1:15 video not far from the downed hollow oak tree I presented above.

 

Some standing dead trees leave a void in the crown, in this case what I estimate as a one-fifth of an acre opening. Adjacent trees are already vying for the precious sunshine, reaching inward. Forests are dynamic. The opening will be short-lived. Trees compete ruthlessly for finite site resources: sunlight, ground moisture, and soil nutrients. Nature is a meritocracy. The concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion do not translate from faddish human social endeavors (e.g., bloated university administrative offices of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) to Nature. Nature’s systems operate on performance. Nature doesn’t need a DEI vice president to decide which trees adjacent to the opening are allocated what share of the newly available sunlight.

 

To the victor goes the spoils. Such is the way of evolutionary success.

Some portions of the forest have transitioned by way of widescale windthrow and breakage to a noticeably smaller (younger?) stand. I will continue to ponder the successional pathways within this old growth riparian forest. Watch for me to develop the pathway in future Posts.

 

May your life be one of pleasant sauntering!

Thoughts and Reflections

 

I offer these observations, from Albert W. Palmer’s recollection of a conversation with John Muir:

  • How much better to “saunter” along this trail of life, to measure it in terms of beauty and love and friendship!
  • How much finer to take time to know and understand the men and women along the way, to stop a while and let the beauty of the sunset possess the soul.
  • To listen to what the trees are saying and the songs of the birds, and to gather the fragrant little flowers that bloom all along the trail of life!

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Inform, and Reward you!

 

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all blog post images are created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2023 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://eepurl.com/cKLJdL

And Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

A reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied by untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and understand their Earth home more clearly.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Four Books

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature.

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love sauntering and exploring Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grandkids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few other lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's Books

 

 

 

All three of my books (Nature Based LeadershipNature-Inspired Learning and LeadingWeaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship with the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

I now have a fourth book, published by Dutton Land and Cattle Company, Dutton Land & Cattle: A Land Legacy Story. Available for purchase directly from me. Watch for details in a future Post.

Mid-August 2023 First Time Visit to Forever Wild Shoal Creek Nature Preserve

August 18, 2018, while in Florence, Alabama taking photographs in preparation for my October 13, 2023 presentation at the city’s 27th Annual Horticulture and Tree Conference, I stopped by the nearby Forever Wild Shoal Creek Nature Preserve, my first “wildland” venture since triple bypass surgery eight weeks prior. I admit to a bit of trepidation as I wandered from the trailhead. I didn’t penetrate the 298 acres for much more than 15 minutes, turning well short of Shoal Creek, a future destination when I return.

Shoal Creek Preserve (dedicated by Forever Wild resolution as the Billingsley-McClure Shoal Creek Preserve) allows visitors to explore 298 acres of fallow fields, mature upland hardwood stands and scenic creek bottoms in Lauderdale County. Waterways on the tract include Indian Camp Creek, Lawson Creek, Jones Branch and Shoal Creek.

The tract was purchased in part through a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant awarded by the Alabama Department of Economics and Community Affairs, as well as through financial and in-kind contributions from the City of Florence and Lauderdale County.

Two trails totaling 4.3 miles give hikers views of Shoal Creek, Indian Camp Creek, Lawson Branch, and Jones Branch, all on this small 300-acre property.

Jones Creek at the entrance road to the property, SW corner of the 298-acre NP, drains into Shoal Creek where backwaters of Wilson Lake swell Shoal Creek. Shoal Creek enters the Tennessee River at Turtle Point Yacht & Country Club

 

I felt fortunate to reenter Nature, albeit cautiously, just eight weeks from open heart surgery. The sky could not have been more welcoming…cerulean blue with puffy cumulus. I’m a softy for trailhead signage, especially when graffiti and trash don’t mar the scene. My compliments to those maintaining the area.

 

I like the red roof over the entrance marquis. Here’s the view from 100 yards within the trail, looking back to the red roof.

 

Trails at Shoal Creek NP are well marked, a necessity for first time trekkers, and a comfort to those who are returning infrequently.

 

The interpretive text I quoted earlier mentioned acres of fallow fields. Importantly, nothing in Nature is static. A fallow field transitions in our moist temperate climate rather rapidly from meadow to woody brush to young trees to forest and finally to old growth forest. The photo below shows a meadow still dominated by herbs and forbes, a mixture of annuals and perennials. Come back at ten-year intervals and you won’t believe your eyes!

 

No one can dispute the beauty, wonder, magic, and awe of Nature’s richness and her grandeur. Can you imagine a yellow more vibrant and rich than the blossom of this partridge pea, a native legume common in such early successional habitats? I wonder, how many partridge pea plants per meadow acre is sufficient? Ideal? The same can be asked of any plant, animal, insect, or life form in an ecosystem. Is there a mathematical formula to derive the optimum mix of taxa? In simplest terms, there is no correct answer. Nature doesn’t need a species diversity comptroller to track and enforce ratios, minima, distribution, variances from norms, and standard deviations.

 

And yet, today’s societal leanings are embracing a mindset that places great stock on monitoring, categorizing, and meticulously controlling metrics related to human Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as though some bureaucratic class understands the optimum admixture for human affairs, varieties, races, genders, ethnicities, and predilections. Nature, on the other hand, cares only about the function and outcome from a proven, timeless, and extraordinarily successful sorting mechanism — an effective meritocracy. In human endeavors, some bureaucrat may deem five partridge pea plants per acre as ideal. Nature simply does not care…that hapless staffer knows nothing!

The fallow field below will convert to forest if left to Nature’s devices. I admit, however, to a bias toward mixed habitat. Were this already a closed forest, the lovely sky would lie hidden beyond an enveloping canopy. Bluebirds, grasshoppers, meadow voles, and harriers would yield to species common to the mature forest. We maintain the early successional cover only through active and deliberate management! Prescribed fire is one obvious tool. I don’t know what managers of the preserve plan. I’ll watch with anticipation.

Shoal Creek Nature Preserve

 

Among other plants thriving within this section of meadow are Eastern red cedar, blackberry, thistle, sweet gum, poison ivy, and many other woody perennials, shrubs, and trees. A new forest is emerging.

 

Because still photographs fall short of revealing a cogent reality, I recorded this 1:00 video with narration:

 

Panicoideae grasses, large native perennials, dominate this area. Panic grasses are deeply rooted. Without active management (usually in the form of prescribed fire), forest will succeed. The olde truth prevails…nothing in Nature is static.

 

Shining sumac is a small, early successional tree. This thriving specimen is producing a full seed crop, attracting meadow-habitat birds that will consume the fruits. Digestive juices will scarify the hard seed, encouraging germination when the birds deposit the seed elsewhere in the meadow. Again, I ask, how many shining sumac individuals is enough? Optimum? What is the ideal number of seeds per acre? How many goldfinches are needed to properly disperse the seeds? Perhaps when we know how many angels can sit on the head of a pin we can answer such questions about Nature and her ideal species numbers and distributions. I shall remain a species comptroller skeptic, just as I will forevermore fail to see real value in business, industry, government, and universities bloating with DEI staff and administrators.

 

I am certain of my own bias to rich and varied habitat, like this image from the Shoal Creek Nature Preserve website.

SCNP Website

 

I’m curious to see what the future holds. Does the Preserve have a management plan? Does it prescribe treatments for maintaining habitat diversity? By what means? I feel a little guilty posting this photo essay on the basis of my very preliminary and shallow explorations post-surgery. However, my elation at stepping back into Nature overshadowed my guilt. I plan to return and I will dig more deeply.

Thoughts and Reflections

 

I offer these observations:

  • Nothing in Nature is static.
  • As in our own lives, successional stages carry us from youth to maturity to our senior years.
  • Experiencing a new (to me) Nature Preserve whets my appetite for deeper exploration and understanding.

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Inform, and Reward you!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2023 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://eepurl.com/cKLJdL

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature.

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few other lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's Books

 

All three of my books (Nature Based LeadershipNature-Inspired Learning and LeadingWeaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

I now have a fourth book, published by Dutton Land and Cattle Company, Dutton Land & Cattle: A Land Legacy Story. Available for purchase directly from me. Watch for details in a future Post.

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Inform, and Reward you!