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20 Voices for 20 Years

Otis & Friends 5I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

Today I’d like to introduce you to a whole scurry of them!

In honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary, we asked 20 friends, “Why are you grateful for Prairiewoods?” and “How have you been transformed?” As you can see in the quick YouTube video below, they are grateful for everything from the quiet serenity they find here to the natural playground created by our 70 acres. What has been your favorite thing about Prairiewoods over the last 20 years? What are you most looking forward to? #20Voices20Years

 

20 Voices for 20 Years

Some Favorite Prairiewoods Critters

Otis & Friends 3I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

Whenever I see Prairiewoods Artist in Residence Joni Reed Cooley, she has a camera in her hands. She snaps, snaps, snaps pictures of me, of the trees, of the other critters that call this land home. Here are some of her favorite pictures from this holy space …

One of the many joys at Prairiewoods for me is the opportunity to take some special nature photos. I love to watch for the critters around Prairiewoods and capture their personalities in photos. From many hours with my trusty point-and-shoot camera in the woods and through the Guest House window, these are some of my favorite photos of Prairiewoods animals.

Deer in Winter_Joni Reed Cooley

While I was sitting on the swing by the labyrinth on a late winter afternoon, this group of deer ambled by. I just love how you can clearly see each deer’s personality. The ringleader, the watchful scout, the shy one—can’t you just imagine what they are thinking? And just what do you imagine the ringleader is saying?

Praying Groundhog_Joni Reed Cooley

During a summer retreat in the Guest House, every day was “Groundhog Day” as I rushed to the window each morning to look for the groundhogs. They were frequently very busy grazing outside my window and keeping a watchful eye out. I enjoyed watching them suddenly rear up and stand motionless to check for danger, and then quickly go back down again. I later learned that their eyesight is not so good, hence the need for frequent upright checks. I always imagine this groundhog as the greeter, proclaiming “Welcome to Prairiewoods.”

Turkey_Joni Reed Cooley

Walking to the bench overlooking Dry Creek one summer day, I saw a lone turkey heading down the path behind me.  As I came to the bench, I wondered if he would continue coming toward me. We looked at each other and he apparently decided I was no threat to him. As I grabbed this photo, he continued down the path with his jerky turkey gait and walked past me into the grasses. Later while sitting on the bench, I was amused to think about the implications of the turkey and I on the same path.

Rabbit_Joni Reed Cooley

This special rabbit rested next to my Guest House window one spring afternoon. I felt sad about her ear and I wondered if she had been in a fight or maybe had it caught in something. But it had healed well and she seemed fine. I marveled at all of the colors in her fur, something I had never noticed before. I was inspired to paint her portrait before I left my retreat that week.

Nursing Deer_Joni Reed Cooley

If you attended Prairiewoods’ wonderful Spirituality in the 21st Century event, you have seen this photo. But did you know that it was taken from a Prairiewoods Guest House window? I spied this majestic doe standing across from my window one dusky evening, and I hurriedly focused on trying to get a good close-up photo of her. Then I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye, and fortunately I drew back to see the fawn with her! I was so amazed by what I was seeing that my hands were shaking as I tried to capture this incredible scene. Wow, did I ever feel privileged to have witnessed this beautiful, intimate tableau. And to think that I almost missed it!

Deer - spotted_Joni Reed Cooley

The last photo is that same fawn making its getaway after acknowledging me in the Guest House window. I love how she is so stretched out, so you can see all of her spots. To me, she looks like she is smiling and saying, “Gotta run—see ya later!”

 

—Joni Reed Cooley, Artist in Residence

 

New Sacred Spaces at Prairiewoods

Otis & Friends 2I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

Sister Marj English came to Prairiewoods almost a decade ago. In her role as Coordinator of Spiritual Services at Prairiewoods, she tends to the spiritual needs of humans and critters alike. Here are her thoughts on some of the new features at Prairiewoods …

Erlacher Fountain 2_Joe Young_small
Otis, have you noticed the increased traffic and population boom in a couple of your treasured hangouts? I have seen a number of people sitting reflectively, even peacefully, by the fountain just outside the Center’s north door. I’ve also seen some serious journaling being done there.

 

2016 Sacred Earth 1

What used to be the herb garden was expanded recently into a healing garden. This seems to be a very popular place as well for retreatants and visitors. (Recently you may have noticed the staff having its picture taken in the midst of this new healing garden in support of Sacred Earth.)

Since you seem to be fed quite often in these areas, I take for granted you have noticed. Don’t worry, Otis, I trust you will continue to be fed and to make some new friends. Thanks for looking out for our guests and sharing your space with them!

—Marj English, OSF, Coordinator of Spiritual Services

The Stunning Seasons at Prairiewoods

Otis & Friends 1I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

Joni Reed Cooley is a human who helped me understand just how kind and gentle humans can be. Armed with her camera, paint brush and charcoals, she truly sees all of us who call Prairiewoods home, not just the two-legged ones. Here are some of her best photos that capture the changing seasons on these 70 acres of woods and prairie …

Each of the four seasons at Prairiewoods is spectacular! Capturing the changes of the seasons with my camera is one of my favorite pastimes. Each season shines with its own colors and textures. Can you recognize the spots at Prairiewoods where these eight photos were taken? (By the way, I once took a number of photos in the woods at Prairiewoods after a major snowstorm and showed them to Sister Nancy Hoffman. She easily identified the exact location of each snow-laden tree!)

Dew on Grass_Joni Reed Cooley

 

Summer

The dew on the blades of grass was an exquisite sight during my early morning walk on this day. The photo was taken near the bench overlooking Dry Creek.

Swing by Pond

 

 

Such a restful place! This scene by the pond always makes me wish I was sitting there—I can hear the frogs now!

 

 

 

Fall Trees_Joni Reed Cooley

 

Fall

I love the different colors of the fall leaves against the dark tree limbs in this photo. This beautiful tableau was near the path coming down the small hill from the Center, looking up to the side.

Milkweed_Joni Reed Cooley

 

 

The milkweed pods were opened when I walked by them, making me want to take a big breath and blow the puffs away! This beauty was growing near the parking lot in front of the Guest House.

 

Winter Trees 1_Joni Reed Cooley

 

Winter

Walking the trails at Prairiewoods in the winter is a special treat! The woods are especially beautiful after a heavy snow. I headed out to the woods on an exquisite blue-sky morning after it had snowed all night. Everywhere I turned, the sights were simply awe-inspiring. These branches were along the trail heading down to the creek from the labyrinth.

 

Winter Trees 2_Joni Reed Cooley

Another beautiful morning after a major snowfall! I loved the patterns of these clouds, and to me, there are few things lovelier than fresh snow on the pines. These glorious trees greet you along the entryway to Prairiewoods.

 

Butterfly 24_Joni Reed Cooley

 

Spring

The gardens of Prairiewoods are always so lovely! And the efforts to provide a habitat for butterflies have been wonderful. This monarch posed prettily in the flowers in front of the Guest House.

 

Swing by Kitchen_Joni Reed Cooley

 


This swing scene looks so peaceful! Perhaps you have enjoyed sitting here outside the kitchen (our friend Otis’ favorite territory). I had a wonderful time creating a painting of this scene during an art retreat.

 

So perhaps these photos have inspired you to take your own tour of the seasons at Prairiewoods. Treasures await you!

 

—Joni Reed Cooley, Artist in Residence