Guest post by Brian Cooke
Back in January I asked my fourth-grade daughter if she and her classmates had discussed New Year’s resolutions for 2017. She replied that one of her classmates had resolved to play outside more often.
“That’s my New Year’s resolution too,” I told her with a smile, although I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms before that moment. I’d been feeling an imbalance with nature for a while: As a freelance writer for the Forest Service, I felt like I’d spent more time in 2016 writing about natural areas than I’d spent experiencing them.
That’s why I was so excited to see that local writer-naturalist Kevin Cook is leading a series of talks at Poudre River Public Library District this winter. Kevin has published more than 10,000 pieces of writing and has led more than 200 wildlife tours. He has also conducted monthly talks at area libraries since 1991, which I suppose makes him a local celebrity naturalist. Kevin’s latest 12-part series is called “Views and Vistas: A Naturalist’s Desiderata.”
In case you’re curious, desiderata is Latin for “desired things.” The word was made famous as the title of a short poem written back in 1927 by an American writer named Max Ehrmann. Apparently, Kevin had the poem taped to the wall of his Airstream trailer when he lived in Gunnison in the early 1970s.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence. …
(excerpt from “Desiderata”)
The poem is worth looking up in its entirety, but Kevin’s spin on the concept seems to be to stop and smell the roses … or, here in northern Colorado, the wildflowers, grasses, and trees.
As Kevin describes it, “As a guy who’s been connected to nature his entire life, how do I get people connected to nature in a positive and soulful way? I want to help people to engage nature and wildlife … to go outdoors and enrich their lives.”
To find out more about Kevin, I called Amy Holzworth, a librarian at Old Town Library who has known Kevin for more than 20 years.
“Kevin’s one of the most-attended of all our speakers,” Amy says. “His love of nature is a big part of his life and he motivates other people to connect to nature as well.”
Kevin’s series carries throughout the year on the second Tuesday of each month from 1:00-2:00PM at Old Town Library. His talks are funded by the Poudre River Friends of the Library.
In March, Kevin’s presentation will examine life as a complete package rather than a dichotomy of good and bad especially in regards to nature’s easy-to-scorn wasp or cockroach. “Desideratum 3: Tolerate the Unlikable” will be held on Wednesday, March 14, beginning at 1:00PM at Old Town Library.
Although I missed Kevin’s first “desiderata” talk, I’ll be there next time with my notebook in hand and an open mind. And as I plan my outdoor excursions for 2017 and beyond, I’ll try to remember something that naturalist John Muir once said: “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
Originally from Pennsylvania, Brian has worked as a writer and editor for more than 20 years, including financial, science, environmental, healthcare and technical writing. His past volunteer work has included four years as a tour guide on Alcatraz and answering questions about Northern California at the San Francisco National Maritime Historical Park in Fisherman’s Wharf. Brian currently volunteers for History Colorado, Poudre River Public Library District, and the Visit Fort Collins visitor’s center in Old Town Square. His LinkedIn page is www.linkedin.com/in/bcooke1.