March 29, 2017
Hands On Outdoor Learning
I’m told that children learn through play. From what I have experienced, I believe that everyone can learn through play. Our family has been playing in, on and around the Great Lakes most of our lives. We have learned a lot while we swam, boated, fished and beach combed. The lakes engaged all our senses: the splash of cold water, the sound of the waves, the silence of fog, hot sand underfoot and the way it sings when you drag your toes across it, the ever changing colors and rhythms of waves, the times fish bite the best. The outdoors have many lessons to teach if we pay attention.
Family vacations took us to all of the Great Lakes; the majesty of Niagara Falls; to the rocky shores of Lake Superior where we hunted for agates; to many embayments and open waters of the lakes to fish. My husband Norm, has caught nearly every kind of fish in the lakes: walleye from Lake Erie and the embayments of the upper Great Lakes, deep water fish such as lake trout and burbot, and the annual runs of white fish and perch Pacific salmon that were planted to control alewives.
We have all learned so much from our outdoor adventures; changing colors, their beaches of stone or sand, waterfalls, fishes and birds, wetlands , and dunes with their succession of plants. In our play around the Great Lakes, we always learn something new.
With all of this hands-on experience I wrote a non-fiction book, The Dynamic Great Lakes, a non-fiction primer. I had wanted a book like this to read, but I never found one so I decided to write a book with information that people could use to make sound decisions about the Great Lakes.
I am also the published author of three poetry books: The Wilderness Within and Sophia’s Lost and Found: Poems of Above and Below and Between Sweetwater and Sand. The last book will be released July 30, 2013( These poems are drawn directly from observations of nature.
At Grand Valley State University, I developed writing classes based upon environmental studies. This gave students important topics to work with. I did not want papers recycled from high school. I assigned books such as The Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold and Blue Highways by William Least-Heat Moon and Thoreau. We discussed the topics and writing techniques used by these authors.
I asked my students to go outdoors and use observation and to use the five senses. They kept journals based on what they saw and even how they felt about what they saw. I brought things from nature such as feathers and plants indoors for students to hold in their hands and then describe in concrete detail. They played with the downy feathers, blowing on them and closely observing them.
I asked them to use metaphor and to use as many of the five senses as they could in their descriptions. Student writing becomes grounded in reality when using these sorts of exercises.
Our lives become grounded when playing outdoors.
Click the link for reviews of The Dynamic Great Lakes
February 10, 2017
Since DDT and like pesticides were banned in 1972, the American Bald Eagles may be seen around the Great Lakes.
Read About how this happened in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.
Find the book at bn.com, Amazon.com and many other brick and mortar bookstores such as the Bookman in Grand Haven, MI.
January 9, 2017
The north woods ring—the waters gather dripping from the tops of pines, running, running, running over ancient rocks. The veerys trill up and down the scales, the warblers chime their notes through still bare twigs and the water runs, it runs down to Lake Superior swirling downstream, plunging over waterfalls just freed from ice curtains. Curious deer come to drink from the pool below lifting their heads, standing motionless to sense the air. Is it bear? Wolf? Lynx?
Sun dapples down through bare forest trees—sun streams, the ground steams, wet leaves tilt insisting on light, thrust new spikes. Water flows through mobile root hairs, roots, stems, vaporizes into air.
Wild geese weave the wind, skid along black marsh water among tangles of cat tail. Further downstream waves curl onto a rock shore polishing stones to oval and the small stones roll chinking and chunking. They assume their flat round shapes over years of grinding, finding their ease in the wave rhythms, rolling rolling, rolling. White caps bubble foam and the jade water is a dancing goddess in the middle distance between shore and horizon.
Children arrive to pick up fossils of ancient coral and to find stones to skip on a quiet day. They chase sea gulls and try to become airborne by leaping and spreading their arms. Cormorants and sooty terns rise and cleave the air. The red cheeked kids leap in the early spring breezes, their knuckles chapped. What do they care?
The bones of whales and sailors roll in the currents—some finding their way out to sea, some becoming, becoming, becoming a diatom’s shining, becoming the bones of an emerald shiner, becoming limestone shale in the loving exchange between the living and the living. The islands of Lake Superior bear greenstones and jewel like snakes. Sturgeon and trout spawn leaving pearls and coral in the crevices of rocks. A moose stands chin deep in and island lake. The islands of Lake Superior are quiet, remote and cold, littered with bones.
Curled underground, water drawn up through squeaky pumps splashes into enamel buckets—water clear and cold and tasting of iron. The iron flows through the veins of the moose and in the red cheeked children.
Loons quiver their greetings and as twilight falls, bullfrogs groan their love songs—they bellow all night long. I lay awake listening to the water lapping the night and its creatures.
October 22, 2016
There are 37 nuclear power plants in the Great Lakes watershed. Pictured is Palisades Nuclear Power plant in Covert Michigan. This plant should have been shut down years ago. Its radioactive wastes are stored near the plant. Its high level wastes are buried on site. These wastes are so toxic and so long lasting that they threaten all life in and around the Great Lakes if released. This is a threat to our greatest freshwater system on Planet Earth and future generations.
June 7, 2016
Upper and Lower Great Lakes Podcast please click the link
Below my painting of a tern and a map of the Great Lakes system.
June 1, 2016
April 30, 2016
Here is a clipping from 1985, the year some summer cottages fell into Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are high again this year. It is normal for the Great Lakes’ water levels to rise and fall. Don’t buy real estate too close to the water. It is powerful.
Read more about the Great Lakes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes. This
non-fiction book is available at bn.com, Amazon.com, the Bookman in Grand Haven and many other fine bookstores.
April 29, 2016
I took a walk in the wooded dunes near Lake Michigan and saw these wildflowers: Dutchman’s breeches and trout lily. This is the time of year to see these blooms.