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Letter from Publisher

Headshot of publisher Peggy Malecki

Peggy Malecki

Happy New Year!
It’s sunny as I write you this late December on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. The transition to a new year is a time of reflection and stillness, as well as an opportunity for rejuvenation and fresh approaches. And as the days get longer and head toward a post-5 p.m. sunset, it’s time to celebrate our successes of the past year while gently easing into new or renewed goals and aspirations.

Although the Chicago area set a new record in 2021 for the latest measurable snowfall (still none as of the solstice), it’s a la niña winter, and the snow and frigid temperatures will arrive eventually. It’s winter in the Midwest, after all. I hope you’ll join me in again setting a goal for this new year to find ways each day to enjoy the season and appreciate the unique beauty of a winter prairie, woodland, hiking trail, lakefront, backyard or urban landscape, with or without snow.

The Norwegian term friluftsliv translates roughly to “open air living” and  celebrating the outdoor world, no matter what the weather forecast predicts. The term was created in 1859 by the writer Henrik Ibsen, and it encompasses ways we can embrace the healing power of being in nature. Rather than practicing a specific outdoor activity done quickly outside of the context of our daily life (such as a ski trip), it is a lifestyle that creates a different perspective and mindset of how we can consciously choose to interact daily with the natural environment around us.

As you’ll find in this month’s news briefs and calendar, opportunities abound for outdoor activities at our local forest preserves, parks, nature centers and natural areas. From eagle watching later in the month to cross-country skiing and evening-lit trails through the woods, there are many ways we can continue to connect and rejuvenate our spirits with nature this winter. And writer Sheryl DeVore explores some of our areas nature museums that offer indoor learning and family activities this winter.

In our January issue of Natural Awakenings Chicago magazine, we’re taking a closer look at a some of the newest trends in health and wellness for people and pets, and helping you sort through the many healthcare and fitness options available. We’ll be continuing to examine new trends throughout the coming year and welcome your insights, comments and suggestions for topics you’d like to learn more about this year (please email [email protected]).

The holidays may be over, but there are a few ways we can all continue to help our neighbors as we get back to everyday activities in these unique times. Please continue to regularly support local businesses, services, restaurants and the like as best you are able. Continue to help those in need in our communities, no matter the weather or season. Support local nonprofits, environmental groups and others with which you share a common vision. Share a smile, kind word or laugh every day. Be mindful and caring of all the lives we share the Earth with. And start planning for spring!

I leave you this month with my usual request to step outside your door every day and revel in the natural world that surrounds us. Listen for crackling ice or the sound of gently falling snow. Observe the wonders of a pastel January sunset. Look for squirrel tracks. Notice the unique patterns of frost on a kitchen window and mindfully observe something new each day of the new year.
From all of us here at Natural Awakenings Chicago,
we wish you a happy, healthy, safe and peaceful New Year!