John Bates

The glory of sunrise is often little more than the subtlety between black rainfog and gray rainfog, a study perfect for charcoal artists.

John Bates, Long Term Ecological Reflections, 2015

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.

Forest Log Work:

The Mosses

The voices retune when I close my eyes when I follow my breath when I say thank you when I place my finger tips together to be a small basket to fill.   Then the hemlocks nod further, the cedars bow lower, and in ebbs grace, a bit like the mosses opening to the...

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What Hath God Rot?

“Think of the starving Armenians,” my mother would say whenever my brother and I tried to leave the table without cleaning our plates. “Okay,” we’d say. “Let’s box it up and send it to them.” She would look gravely at us. “It would rot and go to waste.” Then, with a...

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Scottish, Welsh, English, German, French, Dutch – McPherson, Montgomery, Baetz, Suydam, Dugdale, Holcombe, Michaux, and a blizzard of other names – that’s me. Basically, I’m a mutt. To be sure, such thorough blending in America isn’t unusual, but it can leave one...

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Tree Math

Predawn, the time when it’s light enough to see forms of trees, and I’m doing math. Let’s see: 600 years-old x 365 days = 219,000. That’s 219,000 chances for a western red cedar to feel the dark surrender to the light. Not far south, coastal redwoods get 730,000 such...

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