I would like to give you the chance to learn a little more about me.

I write to bring the natural world closer to those who may be distanced by location, stage of life, or simply lack of a companion. I was a child who found the outdoors a space of utmost curiosity and wonder, a place of unending mysteries. How did birds learn to make nests? Where did the frogs disappear to each winter? Where did water arise from? And how did ants carry crumbs that were twice their size? What makes the sky blue?  Although I grew up in a loving family, with a stable home life and food always on the table, my curiosity about nature was seldom encouraged or shared.

This website is my offering to a world that often sees and assigns value to our natural world based on the amount of money it can put into someone’s pocket. I love to hug trees. I also use wood products. I burn wood, but I also have a deep appreciation for how trees grow, the communities of birds, insects and mammals that live and die within the spaces of a tree’s branches, shelter among the roots and follow the highways of the bark. I see trees as the living, breathing beings they are (they give us oxygen!) and share a gratitude for their gifts.

My curiosity and wonder of nature, fed by canoe trips to the Boundary Waters, early morning field trips to watch sharp tails dance to impress females on prairie leks, long walks under pine and aspen, shorter walks under giant redwoods and hemlocks, continues to grow. As a first-generation college graduate, I sought out majors that were likely to get me outdoors: fisheries and wildlife, environmental studies, land resources.

To celebrate my 40th year on earth, I returned to school for a PhD (University of Wisconsin – Madison) and launched into a study of wild rice, manoomin (Ojibwe), psin (Dakota). The experience was amazing, and life changing. I fell in love with wild rice, learning the beauty of a summer ripened rice bed, the falling whinny of the sora rail (aka rice hen), and exploring obscure lakes across Minnesota and Wisconsin. I met people who have spent decades gathering manoomin’s ripe grain each fall, and others for whom wild rice is intertwined with their history, a sacred connection to their past and future. This too is shared on my website and at wildricevoices.com.

Enjoy, subscribe, explore and be curious! Thanks for stopping by!!


Nature’s Currency

My first memories are of the world at eye level. For a child of three that included the curved stone edging around my mother’s flower bed, shrubs tucked alongside the house, and window wells that trapped frogs and snakes, and an occasional baby bird. I was a town child bounded by sidewalks, residential roads and (eventually) sweeping boulevard trees. Bugs and birds were my first wildlife encounters. Curbside streams carrying leaves and sand after an afternoon rain were my first running waters. I built dams of pebbles and rocks stolen from the window wells. I collected stones of odd shapes or color, partial eggshells (nearly always robin blue), single feathers dropped onto the lawn, acorns and other interesting plant parts I had no names for. These were the currency of my childhood, treasures gathered with joy and curiosity.

Growing older has not changed the currency of my childhood, only expanded the breadth of my collection. Rocks from the Oregon coast now sit with shale from upstate New York, agates from Lake Superior and quartz stenciled stones of various hue rub shoulders together in glass and shell dishes. Tumbled rocks smooth and comfortable in my grip are touchstones to memories of wind and water. Grasses no longer mark my place in books but are hung in nearly every room, dried and sometimes braided, offering their vanilla scent to the air. Palm sized branches of cedar, drying on windowsills bring me back to shadowed forests and carpets of lycopodium (princess pine). Feathers, one blue, one gilded in yellow, sprout from a weathered glass bottle sitting above the sink. Empty seed pods and vacant seashells lay like mixed metaphors atop my shelves. These objects may not need me, but I have always needed them.