Fay’s Point in Blue Island was the site of a recent hike in the Calumet Outdoors Series. The tour, led by our very own Jason Berry, combined industrial and architectural history, American Indian legends, French traders, waterways and rivers, wetlands, restoration, bird watching, frogs, bugs, snakes, green infrastructure, and active transportation.
Most of all, it featured May T. Watts, an inspiring nature writer best known today for her Finders series of field guides (which feature her simple and uniquely effective illustration style). Watts wrote the remarkable Reading the Landscape of America, which has been kept in print by her family. It should be on the bookshelf of everyone reading this.
The Fay’s Point tour was less of a hike and more of a reading. With centuries of accumulated history… well, let May Watts explain it:
There is good reading on the land, first-hand reading, involving no symbols.
The records are written in forests, in fencerows, in bogs, in playgrounds, in pastures, in gardens, in canyons, in tree rings.
The records were made by sun and shade, by wind, rain and fire, by time; and by animals.
As we read what is written on the land, finding accounts of the past, predictions of the future, and comments on the present, we discover that there are many interwoven strands to each story, offering several possible interpretations.
Interpreting this reading matter, in place, on the land, seeing living things in their total environment, is an adventure into the field that is called ecology.
Ready to read? The Calumet Outdoors Series offers a full roster of hikes, bike rides, and paddles each month. You can download the brochure here. Each event is offered free and hosted by the region’s many partners, but above all thanks goes to the strong efforts of Eric Neagu of Weaver Boos Consultants for organizing the series.