Decades ago, professionally adrift, I visited the Chicago area offices of Robert Jackson & Associates to discuss a project for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. IDNL needed someone to research and write about local conditions before agriculture and industry encroached. Narrative and landscape, history and geography: What could suit me better?
The ensuing work introduced me to the magic of the duneland. I learned the dynamics of ecological succession, the difference between bogs and fens, and the satisfaction of reporting to scientists who demanded the facts exactly as we found them.
This past February, the former national lakeshore at the southern tip of Lake Michigan was re-designated a national park. With its miles of beaches and trails, houses dating from the French fur-trading era to the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, and endless diversity of wildflowers, the new IDNP is calling me for a fresh visit to old haunts.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.