If you're longing to experience the great outdoors after being cooped up all winter, an upcoming workshop should satisfy.
Local naturalist and storyteller Richard Shore regularly presents John Muir Stories: The 1,000 Mile Walk and Other Adventures, in which he shares details about the early environmental preservationist's life.
Shore is also offering a 10-session Edible Wild Plant Workshop, scheduled for Saturday afternoons beginning February 28, in which various habitats around Lexington can be explored as plant identification skills are learned.
Here is some background on both programs:
Edible wild plant workshop
This workshop will get you out in the field to learn more about the plants in nearby woodlots and fields and to learn how to tell if they're edible or poisonous.
Presented by Shore, who has a Ph.D. in biology, the workshop uses the Peterson Guide to Edible Wild Plants as a text.
Participants in the 10-session class will do field work on Saturday afternoons in four different habitats: wetland, field, thicket and woods. Samples will be collected, and some even eaten. Participants will make a plant press and keep a journal.
Shore is a new member of the Kentucky Conservation Committee board, has served as chair of the Earth Care Ministries at Second Presbyterian Church and keeps a native flower garden in his Lexington backyard, which includes May apple, shooting star, three kinds of trillium, twin leaf, wild ginger, Virginia bluebells and four pawpaw trees that he grew from seed.
The workshop sessions begin at 1 p.m., Feb. 28. Registration is requested by Feb. 13, at which time details about schedule and locations will be available. Cost: $100 payable at the first meeting. Copies of the text will be available for purchase at a discounted price. For more information, contact Richard Shore (859) 268-1323 or by email, Dick@johnmuirky.com.
John Muir Stories: The 1,000 Mile Walk and Other Adventures
Inspired by the grandeur of the American wilderness, Sierra Club founder John Muir, who is known as the Father of the National Park Service, kept journals with sketches and descriptions of his travels.
An early environmental activist, Muir walked thousands of miles through forests and mountain ranges, first from Louisville to the Gulf of Mexico in 1867, then later along the high Sierra Nevada range in California. He camped in the snow at his beloved Yosemite Valley with President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, lobbying for its protection by the federal government.
Shore has researched Muir's life, and his portrayal is captivating. Little by little, Shore changes his appearance and takes on Muir's persona, all the time sharing details that clarify his personality and ideals. As he sings My Heart is in the Highlands in Muir's Scottish brogue, and tells how to "walk lightly" on the Earth, it's easy to believe you've gone back in time to the late 1800s.
"Muir understood that we need places to go that are beautiful and awesome. I share that view," Shore said recently. "He spoke of the need to stand in awe of the mountains, the cliffs, the falls, and the trees, 'our fellow mortals.' He said it would be good for 'our immortal souls' to do so."
Shore also points out that current scientific studies add to our understanding of "nature deficit disorder" and our need for being outdoors.
"We know about the influence of walking on uneven ground on our mental well being, and the way that sunlight stimulates the pituitary to improve our mood hormones. Science has now found out that we are all related. Muir would be delighted they finally figured that out," Shore said.
Shore grew up in California's agricultural San Joaquin Valley and spent summers in the 6,000-foot foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
"National Parks are set aside as one kind of compromise between the need for access and the need for protection," Shore said. "They are a way for city dwellers to come into the presence of the wild areas, at least a little, to see their beauty, and to enjoy them as they are able, with a minimum of damage to the wild areas."
At least one of the National Park Service's 400 parks is located in each state, Shore said. "National Parks began by setting aside natural areas of remarkable beauty. We have all heard of Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and of Yellowstone, even if we have not visited them. Closer to home we have Mammoth Cave in Kentucky."
For more information on the John Muir: 1000 Mile Walk Presentation, visit Johnmuirky.com or contact Shore at: Dick@johnmuirky.com.
For more information on the Sierra Club, visit Sierraclub.org. Kentucky's Cumberland chapter, with a listing of programs and walks, is at Kentucky.sierraclub.org.
For more information on the National Park Service, visit Nps.gov. U.S. citizens who are 62 and older, U.S. military personnel, permanently disabled or agency volunteers can find special pass rates.