Jason Goldsmith, associate professor of English at Butler University, facilitated our excursion through Evansville’s Wesselman Woods on May 22. As the group trekked through Indiana’s largest remaining patch of old growth forest, participants read two poems (“Walden” and “Whelks”) by Pulitzer winner Mary Oliver, an excerpt of Scott Russell Sanders’ Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World, and an excerpt of Pulitzer winner Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The day ignited an engaging discussion that left us all wanting to linger around the campfire a bit longer.
Below, Goldsmith shares a creative response, inspired in part by William Blake’s illuminated manuscripts, to his Next Indiana Campfire experience that day.
Check out photos and social media recapping our hike through Wesselman Woods here.
Want to experience a campfire for yourself? Check out our list of summer excursions.
A little background on Indiana’s old growth forest: When European settlers arrived in the late 17th century, over 80 percent of Indiana was old growth forest. Today only 20 percent of our state is forested (approximately 7,000 square miles). Much of this is secondary growth, reestablished after the original forest had been cut down. Indiana’s remaining old growth forest covers approximately 1.5 square miles.
Next Indiana Campfires is a unique way to connect nature, literature and Indiana’s Bicentennial. The program is supported by the Efroymson Family Fund, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires. Indiana Humanities is supported in part by Lilly Endowment Inc. and the National Endowment of the Humanities.
This post is part of the weekly blog series devoted to the initiative. Check back every Tuesday to learn more about Indiana’s great environmental literature, find out interesting facts about Hoosier stewardship, get all the latest program details and more.