7 Mar 2010, 3:43pm

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“Green Trillium” to benefit TrailWorks

02/11/2010 Wayne County Mail Newspaper
by Kate Chamberlin
Copyright ©2010 by Kate Chamberlin

“Green Trillium” to Benefit TrailWorks, Inc.

It was a warm, sunny, Sunday one day in May when I harnessed up my guide dog and went on a wildflower hike with Mark De Cracker and about 20 other devotee hikers of TrailWorks, Inc. He didn’t mention anything about tripping and stumbling through acres of corn field stubble to…Well, maybe I should begin at the beginning.
As you may know, one of Mark’s e-mail addresses is “VideoMark”, because he is rarely without a still or video camera. He takes them everywhere and shoots frames with the eye of an artist. One series he has is called “Three Days in May, chronicling the lovely little wildflowers in the meadows, acid bog, and the drumlin woods. He did a presentation of “Three Days in May” to his mother’s Col. Wm. Prescott Chapter of the NSDAR and I was there.
Now, as you may surmise, I am totally blind, so as each slide popped onto the screen, he explained the site to the group while a friend of mine tried to fill-in the picture for me. As I heard the descriptions, I found that my mind wandered back to the home my family lived in during my high school years. It was a large tract of land, sandwiched in-between the flood plains of the Des Planes River and Deerfield, IL. It was called Riverwoods and, although, the dirt roads were all named after liquors (I lived on Scotch Lane and my best friend lived on Sherry Lane.), the meadows, woods, and ditches were full of wildflowers.
I walked a mile just to get to my school bus stop…well, no it wasn’t up-hill both ways, I did have proper shoes, and my Mother would drive me during the winter months. The rest of the year, I went through the woodland paths with its Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, skunk cabbage, and a wonderful host of other spring, summer, and fall beauties. I could once again see their slender stalks, smell the fragrance of old decaying leaves and new life springing up, not to mention hearing the twitter-pated little birds, raucous caws of the crows. And, Occasionally, I’d chew a snip of wild mint, just in case my favorite beau came by in his car to give me a ride.
The applause and chatter at the end of Mark’s slide show, brought me abruptly back to the present. Mark asked me if I’d write a script for “Three Days in May’, but I thought that if he had to sit down with me and describe each slide, why didn’t he just do it himself. I suggested that I’d be better suited to writing a children’s story based on the slide/lecture I’d just heard, so that is what I did.
Mark kept encouraging me to join one of the TrailWorks’ hiking treks to see the wildflowers in Wayne County. He forgot to mention the field of corn stubbles, but back to that in a minute.
Mark also runs a Bed and Breakfast named the Peppermint Cottage and one weekend a young couple from Finland spent their first wedding anniversary there. During their conversations, Mark found out that Mia Surakka was an artist and liked to draw nature. He put Mia and me in touch. My words became wonderful, colorful, and lively illustrations for our children’s book “Green Trillium”. She agreed, right from the beginning, that we would donate a portion of the royalties to some sort of nature preservation group, even though we didn’t know which one it would be.
While we waited to find a publisher for “Green Trillium” that sunny Sunday in early May happened. Once we were all gathered in Mark’s driveway, we started off down the road to the now infamous field of corn stubble. At first my husband, my guide dog, and I were in the lead, then, person by person passed us by until we were literally “outstanding in our field”. We caught up to everyone else in a small meadow between the corn field and the woods we were about to enter. Mark made introductions and, unexpectedly I felt a hug and announcement about our book. I’d never been introduced as an author before, so that felt quite nice…and without further ado, we plunged into the woods.
The woodland path was narrow with tree roots humped up hear and there. Where we had to go single-file, my husband walked behind me and my guide dog did her best to keep me up-right and on the path. The adults and children in the group were patient and helpful. Once again I was smelling the fragrance of the woods and new, spring life forces. I was horrified when Mark came running back with a Squirrel Corn plant he’d pulled up for me to feel, but he replanted it safely in the same place. I patted the fairly smooth Beech Tree trunk right down to its “elephant toes”; noted the hollow tree where my story character got himself stuck; Laughed as two children painted each other with Blood Root a.k.a. ” Indian Paint”; listened to the little birds twitter (mixed in with the sound of a tractor tilling a near-by field – hopefully that darn corn field.)
We gazed over the Golden Valley, Trillium Heaven, and marveled at nature’s resiliency. I carefully knelt down (much to my guide dog’s disapproval) to gently cup the leaves and blossom of a green trillium.
I am pleased to say that, in spite of the corn field, a portion of the royalties from “Green Trillium” will be donated to Trailworks, Inc. “Green Trillium” by Kate Chamberlin, illustrated by Mia Surakka is available from www.Trafford.com/bookstore or phone: 1-888-232-4444. If you order a book, you can reduce the shipping charge by requesting “USPSMEDIA”.
NOTE: Kate Chamberlin is also the author of “The Night Search”, showing young Heather how valuable a tool her long. White cane is when she searches for her lost puppy at camp. Available from www.JasonandNordic.com; Phone 814-696-2920. A portion of these royalties are donated to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a guide dog training center in Yorktown Heights, NY.

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