Our year end event was a ringing success. Thirty-five adventurers braved the wilds of Skokie to explore Harms Woods in a brisk but welcoming snow-covered landscape. Kids led the way and guided the group to multiple climbing trees, riverside paths and a bit of orienteering off trail.

In the grand tradition of communing with nature the group enjoyed fresh air, good company and the thrill of exploration. And while no deer materialized, certain discoveries were made…Dem Bones Gonna Rise Again (see the Bone Report at the end of this post).

Without over-romanticizing things (ok I’ll admit the romance is a part of the charm of the event, so bear with my ruby-colored vision) I think that getting into the outdoors is an essential and restoring element of the human experience. Many great thinkers, literary artists and commenters on the human condition have extolled visions with this perspective.

Henry David Thoreau said, “I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.”

and “For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snowstorms and rain-storms and did my duty faithfully.” -Henry David Thoreau

and finally, “When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most interminable, and to the citizen, most dismal swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place – a sanctum sanctorum. There is the strength, the marrow of Nature.” -Henry David Thoreau

It is also true what Bill Bryson (the author of the wry and witty, A Walk In the Woods) observed about the act of hiking, “I gotta eat something every hour or so or I have, whadayacallit, seizures.”

For those who are interested I hightly reccomend Brysons book, A Walk In the Woods.

Random House says:

Bryson’s journey into the woods is more than a humorous romp through the ups and downs of life on the Appalachian Trail.

It is Bryson’s elegy to a disappearing wilderness and his call to arms for all those who would save it. It is a celebration of America’s commitment to preservation that also critiques the apathy and greed which threaten America’s natural resources.

Noted: Also from Bryson’s travelogue: “She said you guys were a couple of overweight wimps who didn’t know the first thing about hiking and that she was tired of carrying you.”

Dem Bones Gonna Rise Again: The Bone Report

In a very unusual act of modern day zoology (or archeology) Jeremy R.uncovered (in two separate incidents) substantial bone specimens on the walk. One was the skull of a mid-sized animal (definitely too big for a rat/squirrel/chipmunk). Any experts out here? Are we looking at an opossum skull? Or a weasel or some other rodent’s nut? And the other bone was some kind of chewed up femur with some meat still on it (gruesome, yes).

This turned out to be the closest thing our group got to sighting live wildlife in the woods—with the exception of a number of ducks on the river. Perhaps next time we’ll have better luck when there isn’t so much gun firing from the nearby Skokie Skeet Shooting range causing the deer to lay low.

Dem bones were still pretty cool and intriguing and remind us of all the other critters that inhabit the woods within the city.

Reminder: We are still requesting any suggestions for events, destinations and experiences for the E.O. in 2010. We have a short list that will be circulated in the new year, but please add any suggestions now. All ideas are welcome; send ‘em to artworksdesign@ameritech.net.

Note: Double-Click on all photos for blow-up versions. (All photos by Jason Greenberg. Copy & share as you like.)