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Waiting For Rain or Seeding the Clouds?

Ellis_main

Originally appears in the Winter 2008-2009 issue

On a recent hike at Giant City State Park in southern Illinois, I was following a dry creek bed and reflecting on an artist-in-residence program I had presented that morning. With my journal in hand, I was thinking about the writing process. As an essentially curious guy, I was also engaged in basic field ecology. I know the two go hand in hand, but how does a typical classroom teacher find time to teach both creative writing and science process skills? It is tricky to teach the methodology of the science essay and attempt to hold onto the slippery idea of inspiration.

As I was mulling over the dichotomy between inspiration and information, I came around a gentle curve of the creek and found a small pool filled with life. In this puddle were enough insects, crayfish, fish, frogs and plankton to repopulate the entire creek. I stopped mulling over abstract ideas and tried to capture something concrete. I wrote this haiku:

nearly dry

the creek preserves itself

in one small pool

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Brian “Fox” Ellis is a storyteller and naturalist who performs at schools and conferences throughout North America. He is the author of several books, including Learning from the Land: Teaching Ecology Through Stories and Activities and, most recently, Charles Darwin and His Revolutionary Idea. He lives in Peoria, Illinois.