I often explore outside of city limits, being immersed in diverse natural settings along the coast or cascade mountain ranges. I am inspired when finding the remains of tree forms – whether I come across a tree clearing, and slash and burn pile, or an abandoned structure, these forms and environments exist because of the alterations made by our human kind. I understand it is my responsibility to convey and preserve a wooden object’s character, ecological history, and the relationship between the natural world and man’s adaptation of it, including my own.
Miller wrote Heart of the Forest after four artist residencies at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in the Cascade Range. The artist residencies are part of the Spring Creek Project’s Long-Term Ecological Reflections program, which invites writers and artists to interact with environmental scientists, explore the forest, and write or create art. The program, in its twelfth year, is designed to collect reflections on the forest for the next two hundred years.
John Bates is the author of seven books on the Northwoods and Upper Midwest, and a contributor to four others. He has worked as a state forest naturalist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and owns Trails North, a naturalist guide service. He also conducts outdoor classes for Nicolet College, the University of Wisconsin Extension, and the North Lakeland Discovery Center. For twenty years he has written a biweekly column, "A Northwoods Almanac" for the Lakeland Times in Minocqua, Wisconsin.