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Tell Me What ChicagoNatureNOW! Means to You


We all need inspiration, myself included.
Please help inspire me to keep inspiring you.


I’d personally like to hear from you about how our work brings value to your life. Please share your story in the comment section (below), send me an email, or use our Facebook group.


Mike MacDonald stands in the prairie at a cusp in time, as the full moon sets and a new day begins.

If ChicagoNatureNOW! has inspired you, your family, or your community, please inspire us with your story. You can post a comment below, send me an email, or join our Facebook group to stay in touch throughout the year.

Lately, I’ve been doing some soul-searching because, in the three years since launching ChicagoNatureNOW!, we’ve heard very little from our 670 subscribers. Of course, this makes me wonder how many people are using this platform to visit the preserves that we scout every week for six months of the year. Now, as we embark on a new season of hard work, I need to be inspired by your story. It’s important for me to know, as I sit at the computer crafting the weekly report, that there are people relying on us to bring beauty into their lives. Please tell me and our wonderful volunteers how you’ve used this platform to enrich your life.

From the beginning, I’ve envisioned ChicagoNatureNOW! as an inspirational, educational, therapeutic, and thought-provoking resource for students and teachers, hikers and healers, explorers and thinkers, authors and artists. After learning in school about the wonders of Chicago nature, I imagine hearing children pestering their parents to take them to see and sniff the flowers. I envision peace and healing arising from therapeutic hikes under ancient oaks. I can picture a plein air painter shading the rich colors and textures of the prairie onto an increasingly kaleidoscopic canvas. And I think of a day when people discover nature’s value and come to share in its revival. These things I’ve only imagined, because so few let us know.

So, please share the value that our work brings to your life. You can tell your story in the comment section below, send me an email, or join our Friends of ChicagoNatureNOW! Facebook group to stay in touch throughout the year.

Thanks! And have a happy spring!


© 2019, Mike MacDonald. All rights reserved.


  1. This is a valuable asset to any Chicagoland nature photographer. I rely on this letter and read it even on the times I can’t get out in the field.

  2. I love getting updates on what’s in bloom! I would not know about many of the preserves on my “to visit” list if not for ChicagoNatureNOW!

  3. I discovered your newsletter this past year through friends. I have loved following along, and look forward to visiting many of the parks and natural areas your mention when we relocated back to the Chicago area this summer. Please keep them coming!

    • Alex,
      When you get back, please fill us in on your adventures!

  4. The beauty of nature uplifts me. I appreciate that you share this beauty through the lenses of your eyes and camera. I don’t have to plan ahead and spend a lot of money. Beauty is right here near where I live.

    • Hey, Peggy!
      Which preserves have you visited?

  5. I love your photographs and reminders about what’s happening in nature in the Chicago area. Since subscribing to your email list, I’ve used it to plan weekend trips to see spring wildflowers and nature hikes with our four-year old son. I really love that the descriptions include details about what’s blooming (so I can pick a place by species, showiness, or quantity) and sorts sites out by geographic area – sometimes we want to go south, sometimes north, or stay close vs take a longer drive. There’s nothing like else like this as a resource! It’s like the Chicago Reader’s events calendar and early warnings but for wildflowers instead of concerts or plays!

    • Hi, Sarah! Thanks for the wonderful review! I’d love to hear some stories about your son’s experiences at our showcase preserves. It’s great that, to him, going out into nature is completely normal. I’m honored that I can help you with that!

  6. I would not have discovered the fen in Elgin if not for you

  7. Mike! I discovered you on NPR around two years ago and have used your newsletter almost every weekend during the spring and summer. It has taken me to a lot of preserves I wasn’t aware of. I love hiking and knowing where things are in bloom has made my hikes a lot more enjoyable. It has deepened my appreciation for this little part of our great lakes region. I’ve also used the newsletter to mark my favorite locations on google maps with the time of year I went to them, so I can go back again. I live in the city, and it is really nice to have found beautiful places to explore outdoors. Thank you!

  8. Mike, our camera club, Mayslake Nature Study & Photography Club, uses your newsletter as a resource to determine locations and timing for our photo outings. Keep it up. I have your book as well to use as a reference.

  9. Mike, I am very impressed by your work and talent. I purchased two of your books, one as a present, and I follow your posts, sometimes going to find the beauties you describe. Your enthusiasm is contagious, your photos help me redirect my attention to what is important.Your photos show not only the ephemeral beauty of nature, but also how precious it is, and especially that it is immensely worthy of love and protection. You kneel to smell the flowers on the ground, you hide for days to take the right picture of birds, and wait for the right moment so everything is perfect. Thank you so much for opening my eyes to see that this immense and brutal city hides so much beauty, your newsletter is wonderful!

    • Hi, Corina!

      Thank you for taking the time to write with me so eloquently. And thanks for supporting my photography. It means a lot. I’m impressed that you not only own my book, but you also shared it with another. And you actually read it! Most people just look at the pictures. You’re a rare breed! As you use the website, please write again and continue to inspire us with stories from your journeys.

  10. I found out about your site at the Wild Things conference. It’s a great idea. Unfortunately, shortly after that day I came down with a bad case of bronchitis and, though I did visit your site I didn’t have the mental acuity to learn how to find things on it. I will give it another try now that I’m better. I was hoping to find something about Oakhurst Forest Preserve as our Wild Ones group is going there on May 4.

  11. Mike, your newsletter and site gives me many intangible benefits including but not limited to: The knowledge that these sites actually exist within driving distance; The happiness of being able to immerse myself in these sites; The anticipation created by knowing that I now have goals of trying to visit as many of these sites as possible. I cannot state enough how important it is to have this knowledge base available to us so that we can have these places to destress and feel connected to the Earth. On top of all that, the sites you let us know about are also a great resource to send folks for inspiration about extending natives to their own yards.

    • Wow, Candace! Thanks so much for letting me know the many ways you find value in this platform! Yes, we help people to find flowers, but we’re really helping people find themselves (along with their sanity).

      I got into native gardening because I wanted my home to emulate what I would see all the time when I’m out in nature. And I figured that that’s how other people got interested. But I’ve been finding that most of the people who have native gardens have never experienced their flowers in the wild. And that stuns me! I can imagine native gardeners visiting a summer prairie with a display of prairie blazing star, which they already have in their garden. After their visit, I can see most of them heading off to the garden center to purchase the other plants they say, too, like early goldenrod, rattlesnake master, and ironweed. I love those associations. And if people could experience those associates in the wild, I think native gardening would be much more popular.

  12. So happy I discovered this site last year! My daughter was coming home for a visit and I wanted to show her some local flora. She’s a rare plant biologist in California, and while I’ve been hiking with her out there for more than a decade, it occurred to me that we hadn’t done any wildflower hunting here since she was little. Your site proved to be a great resource and I was able to knock her socks off one afternoon. I’m looking forward to discovering more places and blooms this season. Thanks for all you do!

    • You’re very welcome, Kathy! You told the perfect story that demonstrates the immense biodiversity of the Chicago region. Where did you take your daughter that day? And please keep me apprised of your visits. (You can post a comment for any alert.) I love hearing about it.

  13. Hey MIke, Thanks so much for sharing your passion. I heard you on NPR last year, read your book and saw you speak at a library last spring. You helped fill 2018 with so many beautiful hikes, beginning with the blue bells at O’Hara Woods that even filled my better half with awe – looking forward to taking my 80 yr old mother there this spring. I made it to probably 2/3 of the preserves in your book last year and it’s so helpful to receive your newsletter to learn what is in bloom where and to learn more about the various species. The beauty of these places in bloom can truly take your breath away. Thanks again!

    • Hi, Dean! It makes me so happy to know that you’re actively using the website and book to visit the preserves! After all, that’s the whole point. Please let me know how your mother reacts after you take her to O’Hara Woods.

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