Capturing the splendor

Today, February 20th, is the birthday of celebrated nature photographer, Ansel Adams who was born in San Francisco in 1902. Adams is best known for his black and white landscape photographs of national parks, especially Yosemite and the Sierras. As a boy, he wanted to become a concert pianist but when he was 14, his parents gave him a Brownie Kodak camera. That summer he went to Yosemite and returned every year to photogragh it until he was 81. He became the photographer for the Sierra Club in 1922. Adams said, "A good photograph is knowing where to stand."

Lake Michigan Dunescapes at Malletts Creek

Lake Michigan – 307 miles long, 118 miles at its widest point, home to the world’s largest freshwater dunes. Bottom line, a whole lot to feast your eyes on! And feast you will viewing Malletts Creek newest exhibit of black and white photos of the rugged, windswept beauty of the Lake Michigan dunes by Gale Nobes. This stunning exhibit will be up now to March 14.

If the exhibit leaves you thirsting for more spectacular Lake Michigan views, check out Ed Wargin’s Lake Michigan: A Photographic Portfolio. Wargin’s full color photos show you sites from all around this great lake.

A Different View of Wolves

A youth librarian recently recommended Never Cry Wolf a science/adventure/nature/cold weather DVD based on the book by Farley Mowat In this well-done, PG-rated film, an inexperienced biologist is dropped into the Arctic to study wolves, whose habits have been misunderstood. Kids in upper elementary and middle school would probably enjoy watching this film on a winter evening.

What’s A Truax? Well I’m So Glad You Asked, Let Me Tell You!

In Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, an entrepreneur named Once-Ler sees his business grow from a one-room shop to a gigantic factory selling useless Thneeds made from tufts of chopped down Truffula Trees. The titular character, a small creature that speaks for the trees, pleads to Once-Ler to leave the trees alone, but alas and alack, the forest is destroyed and The Lorax leaves. Seuss chillingly bookends the tale in the idyllic forest-cum-wasteland with the now impoverished Once-Ler telling his story to a young man. In rare form, [Seuss, Dr|Seuss] adds a real subtlety to Once-Ler as the now remorseful enemy, and doesn’t pander—does he ever?—to kids with his message. So what’s The Truax? Why it’s the hardwood flooring industry’s delightful rebuttal.

Not just another cute polar bear

For a heart-warming, environmentally concerned book, try Knut: How one little polar bear captivated the world, told by Isabella, Juliana, and Craig Hatkoff, and Gerald R. Uhlich, with photographs by Zoo Berlin. The story of how Knut is rejected by his mother bear and raised by a human is well told and touching, and I also liked the tie-in at the end with polar bears and global warming. This worthy book is from some of the same people who brought us Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship about a baby hippo and a giant tortoise. I love these books -- educational (not boring), touching (not saccharine) and nurturing (not overwhelming) for young hearts and minds.

Let's Be Careful Out There


Fire Danger is very high across Michigan right now. So make sure your campfires at our wonderful state parks are completely extinguished before your last verse of Kumbaya is sung. Then you can settle down in the tent with the Nick Adams stories, this year's Great Michigan Read choice.

Rarely Seen are Now Readily Accessible


This is not a zigzag bladderwort, it's a Blanchard's cricket frog, one of the more than 600 rare plants and animals featured in the new Michigan Rare Species Explorer. The curious of all ages can search by habitat, location, name, best time to view or browse the beautifully illustrated entries for all the species. Kudos to the team at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory for this wonderful new resource.

Gone hiking. Please leave a message...

Did you know there is a great hiking trail just west of Ann Arbor? It's the Waterloo-Pinkney Trail. My son and I hike the trail at least once a year. It's one of the trails featured in 50 Hikes in Michigan by Jim Dufresne. Get the book, plan your trip, and then head out for the trails before the bugs get too bad.

Gary Snyder

Today, May 8 is the birthday of poet, Gary Snyder who was born in San Francisco in 1930. When he was a student, he worked as a logger, a forest ranger and a seaman. All of these experiences informed his life as a poet, drawing on his closeness to nature, concern for the environment and a respect for the primal forces that affect humanity. He first started writing while working on a trail crew in Yosemite National Park. Snyder also spent eight years in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Japan where he developed his love for solitude and all it could teach him. His poetry is characterized by its spareness and contemplative quality and use of work, family and nature as metaphors for more universal themes. Here is one that examines the origins of poetry:

How Poetry Comes to Me

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays

Alabama Moon - for Gary Paulsen Fans!

Moon's father trusts no one - particularly the government. Moon and his father live in the forest in an extreme form of off the grid living. Moon has only known a life where they hunt, grow and forage for all of their food, make clothes out of animal hides and have contact with only the owner of a local general store. When Moon's father dies, Moon follows his father's last instructions: to travel to Alaska to find others like themselves. But Moon is soon caught and entangled in a world he doesn't know or understand, apparent property of the government he has been avoiding all his life. Moon encounters constables, jails, institutions, lawyers, true friends, and true enemies - and begins to wonder if his father's way of life is the one he wants to lead... An excellent debut by Watt Key.

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