One of my favorite things to do is walk in nature; it is also the first step in my studio practice. I’m a papercutting artist and my work is about wildlife, environments, and the cycle of life.
I am very excited to be making work about Forest Beach Migratory Preserve because of the prairies and farm land in which its framed. It reminds me of home. I grew up in a rural part of Illinois and have always found beauty in the changes of seasons, plants, and animals. The roots that inspire my passion for nature come from my parents who would take me hiking, fishing, and camping. From these outdoor experiences I learned to explore what is around us and how connected we can be with nature.
The first time I visited Forest Beach, I noticed that it was very peaceful. It was at the end of summer when all the monarch butterflies where around. You could smell the sweetness of wildflowers in the air and feel summer turning into autumn.
Most of my walks through the preserve have been accompanied by my dog Dotty. During the time we spent there together we discovered muskrats swimming, a variety of birds, plants, and the changes in weather. She especially likes the observation towers where we can see large areas of land and water.
In the winter months we would explore the icy ponds, fallen trees, and exposed branches. As spring approached I was informed about nesting season for birds. Since the 1970s, there has been a decline in the ground nesting species and they often nest close to the edge of trails. To help these birds as much as possible, the preserve has a no dog policy from April 1st through September 1st. This has given Dotty and me a chance to check out some of the other Ozaukee Washington Land Trust preserves, which allow on-leash dogs.
Forest Beach is an inspiring place and I admire its transformation. What once was a golf course with clean cut grass is now a sanctuary for wildlife. I’m so thankful for places like this that keep us connected to nature.