“For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People” Roosevelt Arch, Yellowstone National Park

Dear Nature,

“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

–Theodore Roosevelt


Today is Yellowstone National Park’s 149th birthday. Yellowstone is one of the places on this vast yet small earth that is embedded deep within my heart and soul.

On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the Yellowstone Park Protection Act. 

“The headwaters of the Yellowstone River…is hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale…and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” And thus our National Park system was born.

Theodore Roosevelt, often called ‘the conservation president’, placed the cornerstone of the  arch that bears his name at the North Entrance to Yellowstone on April, 24, 1903.

I am grateful for the men and women who fought for the conservation, preservation and protection of our wild lands, and we must continue their legacy. Happy Birthday Yellowstone, until we meet again.

With Love, Kelly

American Beech
Fagus grandifolia

Dear Nature,
When I woke up yesterday, I said to myself, “March is coming in like a lamb not a lion.”  By late afternoon the lion was roaring! It roared all night long in the form of howling winds with wind gusts of over 50 mph that shook the house! This morning, from my third floor studio window, I watch the bare skeletons of the trees sway and bend in the relentless wind, to the point where I can’t believe they don’t snap in two. We are approaching late winter but there is one tree in the woods that still clings to its leaves, a rusty sienna memory of their summery green glory.  It is the beautiful American Beech, Fagus grandifolia.  A mature beech tree is truly a majestic sight, with its smooth, silvery bark and full leafy crown. Today, I can dream about its summer glory while I sketch a memory from last year.

With Love, Kelly


Dear Nature,
Sometimes I find unexpected things in familiar places. I follow the ‘never have expectations of what you will experience in nature, because it will never be what you expect’ dogma.

We never see much wildlife or birdlife on one of my local hiking trails, though not for lack of trying. It is called Pigeon Swamp and it certainly does refer to the now extinct passenger pigeon, whose flocks once filled the skies. They came to this 40-acre marsh and feasted on beech nuts, abundantly provided by the adjacent stands of American beech trees. Yes, the same tree I wrote about yesterday.

On this date five years ago, I don’t who know was more surprised upon finding a pair of mute swans; the dogs and us or the stately swans!

With Love, Kelly

Close Encounter of the Crane Kind

Dear Nature,
I had a chance to wander around some Florida wildlife preserves and sanctuaries while accompanying my husband on a work trip. I visited Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge hoping to catch sight of the endangered snail kite. As I started on the trail, I came upon this very curious crane! Wow! I know that sandhill cranes are tall, but I didn’t realize just how tall until this individual started walking towards me, almost all 4 feet of it!  I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated, just what did it want of me? I was thinking fast, hoping that it wasn’t expecting food, surely people were not feeding the wildlife here at the refuge.  I started slowly backing up, even as it continued towards me. 

I have to admit I was relieved when it changed direction and headed off the trail into the marsh. My very first Close Encounter of the Crane Kind!

With Love, Kelly

Unexpected Part II

Dear Nature,
Remember I said to never go out into nature with expectations? Well, I certainly didn’t expect to see a bobcat at Loxahatchee, especially in broad daylight, just strolling down the path.

Though there are many bobcats sightings around my home, I have never seen one in our woods, not even on the trail camera I have recently set up. The only other time I have seen a wild bobcat, was a warm March evening listening to the woodcocks at a local field. In the growing twilight, when I almost couldn’t see the birds anymore, a largish mammal stepped out of the underbrush. I was so startled that I almost couldn’t believe my own eyes. I watched a beautiful large feline languidly stroll the perimeter of the field before vanishing back into the woods and the oncoming night.

 At Loxahatchee, I had the presence of mind to catch a few photos as I watched the same languid feline stroll in full daylight.

With Love, Kelly

Rare and Precious 

Dear Nature,
I did see the endangered snail kites at Loxahatchee NWR- 143,954 acres of northern Everglades and cypress swamp that protects the integrity of the remaining Everglades ecosystem. One of the inhabitants of this ecosystem is the native apple snail that is the kites primary food source. Though they are now also eating the invasive exotic apple snail.

The Florida snail kite population is locally endangered mostly due to a loss of habitat and prey base which is why conserving and protecting unique habitats is of the utmost importance

I was able to observe them doing what they are named for, hunting the snails! It was amazing to watch. They would hover over the water, remaining in place, before diving, turning to feet first at the last minute to plunge their feet into the water and come up with a snail. They would then retire to a favorite perch to eat their meal.

With Love, Kelly

The Color Rose

Dear Nature,
“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” wrote Gertrude Stein as part of the 1913 poem “Sacred Emily”. It is often interpreted as meaning “things are what they are”. That surely applies to the beautiful, yet strange, roseate spoonbill.  It is what it is. An oddly elegant wading bird, with a spoon-shaped bill it uses to sweep back and forth in shallow waters, searching for aquatic invertebrates. Its feathers are flamboyant shades of rosy pinks, from the paler shades of the juveniles to the hot pink  shoulders of the adults.

A rose indeed.

With Love, Kelly