During the recent Ridges to Rivers Book Festival held in Viroqua, WI, we welcomed 4 authors into our office to participate in a Book Garden.  Each author read for 10 minutes from their latest works with a theme of Sense of Place.  At the end, there was a nice discussion about how we are all influenced by our surroundings and how we connect with our community and the nature that surrounds it to form our Sense of Place.

One of the authors, Jan Wellik of EcoExpressions, has written a “Nature Writing Field Guide for Teachers.”  This lovely little book is full of writing prompts for people of all ages to get them to think about their local environment and how they connect to it.  I find that I am often spending a lot of time running around and not slowing down to consciously take in my environment.  I feel that I do take it in subconsciously, but add joy to my life if I took a bit more time to slow down and think about the benefits I derive from living in the beautiful and surprising Driftless Area.  I always enjoy driving around corners and spotting a barn tucked away in a valley or driving past a flaming hillside of orange and red in the fall.  Jan invites us to take a few minutes to write down our observations and then expand outward from those observations to ask ourselves how we fit into the picture.  I’d like to share a few of her thought-provoking questions now and in the future to invite us all to take a few minutes to stop and really think about our place in the universe.

This first time, take a few moments to wonder what it is that you like about nature.  What have you learned while being outdoors?  What values has nature shaped in your life?  What would you like to teach others about nature?

I hope you enjoy this short break from daily life!

You can find more of Jan Wellik’s writings at ecoexpressions.org.