Posted by: Katie | June 19, 2012

Love of Nature

Dawn shares her passion for nature, enjoyment of national parks, and even shares a beautiful poem by Joyce Kilmer.

1. How did your interest in nature begin? Did you have a lot of pets when you were a child?

I enjoyed nature from as far back as I can remember.  I was fascinated by insects as very young child.  I recall digging up earth worms at the age of three and draping them over my tinker toy sticks to proudly run into the house to show my mom.  At five, I scooped up a beautiful yellow-and black shiny bodied insect, and delicately cupped it in my hand to again seek out my mom to show her this latest treasure.  Unfortunately, that insect wasn’t too happy about its predicament and let me know by stinging me in the palm of my hand!  That was the day I began to respect nature!  When I was in the Billy the Bookworm Club at the local library as a 3rd and 4th grader, I often took out books identifying flowers, insects and animals.  Because I grew up living in apartments in the city, we mostly could only have cats as pets, and we always had one.  I think reading books about nature helped me to feel closer to it.  I visited local city parks a lot as a child, and always loved being outdoors.

2. Could you explain your favorite aspect about being outdoors? What feelings does nature give you? 

I loved the color, sounds, fresh air and overall beauty of being outdoors.  The poem by Joyce Kilmer sums up the message that I get from trees and all of nature:

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree. 

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;  

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;  

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;  

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.  

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

3. What is your favorite wild animal and why?

How does one even choose?  I would have to say my favorite would be anything in the feline species.  They have such beautiful and varied markings, and such regal characters.  I love to watch them at the zoo and in documentaries.  My second favorite would have to be any type of primate – again, there is no limit to the variety and animation of this species.

4. Have you had any exciting encounters or sightings you’d wish to share?

The most exciting encounter I’ve had was when my husband and I were on our very first camping trip in Wisconsin more than 25 years ago.  We decided to take a circle tour of Wisconsin to experience the variety of state parks and forests.  One afternoon in the Nicolet National Forest,

we were relaxing at the campsite after a long walk, and a black bear strolled right into our site!  While we cautiously and slowly made our way to the opposite side of the picnic table from him, he stood on his hind legs to peek into our car and sniffed the air.  I glanced over at our fire ring to see an empty baked bean can that we somehow neglected to pack up and throw away earlier.  What do you say to lazy bear, who doesn’t appear to be necessarily interested in eating you, but whose presence is still disconcerting?  Well, “Go away, Mr. Bear”, of course! That’s what I said to him, a couple of times, and he did gingerly lumber out into the woods, after which I sprinted for the empty bean can to pack it up!  As novice campers, we quickly learned to make sure we left no trace of food to attract local inhabitants after that.

5. What is your favorite part about bird watching and do you have a favorite species of bird?

I just love to see the different colors and markings of the birds and hear their various songs.  It is so fun to watch for the migratory birds like the bluebirds, hummingbirds, buntings, orioles and scarlet tanagers to pass through Wisconsin.  I have a Wildlife Phenology Calendar based on the observations of Aldo Leopold in the Sand County Almanac, and it is amazing to see how he has documented the patterns of nature to the day, in most cases … how despite the global weather changes we are experiencing, much of the patterns of nature (at least in Wisconsin) have not changed too much, yet.  Despite all the beautifully colored birds, my favorites are still our local chickadees, cardinals and finches.


I love the curiosity of the chickadees and the loyalty of the cardinals to each other.  I have observed the male cardinal bringing seed from the feeder and feeding it to the female on our back porch railing on a few occasions.

6. Have you been to any national parks? If so, which one(s)? 

We have camped in Rocky Mountain National Park

and I would and do recommend this park to anyone who is interested in visiting national parks.  You can choose from 355 miles of  hiking trails that range from lovely lakeside trails on up through steep cliff switchbacks which are breathtaking with every turn and the variety of viewable wildlife is incredible, including big horn sheep, elk, moose, & mule deer, that often can be seen grazing in herds.  The scenic drive on Trail Ridge Road climbs 4000 feet from Estes Park to the highest elevation of 12,183 feet, and takes you through changing fauna and flora, to an 11 mile drive above the tree line along the tundra.  You can hike to several glaciers within the park.  It is just an amazing place to spend time in!  We’ve also Badlands, Custer State Park, Black Hills National Forest, and Badlands, Yosemite, Sequoia & Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, all of which are stunning places, as well.

7. Do you have a favorite State you recommend other wildlife viewers visit?

To the extent that our travels have taken us, Colorado and the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota were the places where we saw the most wildlife.  I recall several amusing drives in the Custer State Park where we where stopped for several minutes due to “Buffalo Jams” (several Buffalo just hanging out in the middle of the road) and encountered herds of wild donkeys who would walk right up to the car and stick their hands in the windows looking for handouts, much to the delight of our then young children!



  1. pretty pics-nice story-i also luv hiking-

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