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Letter from Publisher

Headshot of publisher Peggy Malecki

Peggy Malecki

I am astonished at how quickly this year has unfolded as I am writing my November note to you for this issue of Natural Awakenings Chicago. Here in the Midwest, we’ve lingered in an early fall mode as unseasonably warm, humid weather has helped keep people outside—enjoying parks, outdoor dining, the lakefront and seasonal activities. And despite a more autumnal weather pattern that abruptly arrived, we’re still in what I call the in-between season, enjoying quiet days before the holidays get going. As the upper-level winds sweep in the new month, it’s an ideal time to stop for personal reflection and express quiet gratitude for the gifts and experiences we’ve been given this year. Pleasant or challenging, each moment of every day continues to weave into our life’s tapestry and gives us some memories to consider and be grateful for.

As I often do before writing my letter, I took a walk around the yard for inspiration and gratitude. The leaves on the abundant pear tree are starting to turn yellow, as are the magnolia, oak and hickory leaves. It was a banner year for walnuts, which remain scattered about the garden from a neighboring tree, waiting for the squirrels to gather and process for the winter ahead. Late-blooming native asters, goldenrod varieties, white turtleheads and others will continue flowering into November. As the garden transitions to the resting season, I’ve been gathering some of the seedpods from milkweeds and other natives to plant in early spring, and leaving other seed heads and stalks standing to supply food and shelter for birds and bugs, as well as add winter interest in the garden. As the leaves fall, they’ll form a thick blanket of natural mulch to protect overwintering insects and plants through the cold. Hidden beneath the surface of my fall garden is the promise of a new year.

As we reach the end of another growing season, it’s also a time to be thankful for the natural world to which we are connected in every way, and express gratitude for the opportunities of inner growth, quiet and recharging that the winter season brings. More than ever, it is also a time to be grateful and respectful of the nature that surrounds us and the complex ecosystems that have formed over millennia. Summer scenery typically captures our attention far more than most gray, winter landscapes, yet life goes on throughout the seasons. Aquatic life continues under a frozen pond, birds gather food daily from winter gardens, insects hibernate beneath quiet prairies and other areas, and animals seek shelter in woodlands.

Conservation efforts to protect, preserve, maintain and restore what remains of our irreplaceable Illinois and Midwest ecosystems, including native prairies, savannas, woodlands, rivers and lakes, are as important in winter as they are in summer. I encourage you to take a closer look and learn about our priceless and sometimes overlooked local ecosystems, and do what you can to help support them now and for future generations. If you‘re able, find a local area that captures your heart and try to get involved with a restoration work day, participate in online action meetings or petitions, take a classes to learn more about native plants and animals, offer monetary or service support to a local conservation effort, or find your own unique way to make a difference.

In this month of Thanksgiving and year-end preparations, we offer you articles in Natural Awakenings to help enhance our mental and physical wellness, turn our focus to gratefulness and uplift our spirits as we head into the holidays. We’re in the time of abundant fall harvest, and this month’s issue overflows with recipes to help make the most of local, seasonal foods. I encourage you to continue to take in all that our corner of the natural world has to offer with gratitude. We would love to hear from you via email or on social media to let us know what you are grateful for this November (and share a favorite recipe or two, as well).


Happy Thanksgiving!