Notes From the Field

Content direct from notebooks



by Merri Johnson

In the company of friends on an early summer day,

I walked among the green and growing things –

moss and lichens, shrub and flower, wood and meadow.

Cool and moist, the air, like silk, slipped over our skin,

as if we, too, were leaves or grass or petals.


We stopped to admire a milkweed leaf – its many veins and subtle hues –

a mosaic more sublime than any human-made design.


We tuned our ears to field sparrow, grosbeak, and indigo bunting,

to wood thrush, towhee and whip-poor-will and wren –

voices more pure than any owned by men.


Cottonwood down floated about our heads,

Silent clouds of divinity


So much was seen and marveled at in that brief hour.

The “What?” and “How?” made known

but the puzzle: “Why?”



Merri  has always been an outdoors kind of person in the way that many people are. You know the type: open windows as much as possible; not afraid to get dirty; more interested in visiting a National Park than a Museum; collector of small artifacts that end up in dishes on shelves around my home; watcher and feeder of birds. After retiring in 2013, she heard of Nebraska’s  Master Naturalist program  and took the training in 2014. Since then, Merri’s connection to the natural world has evolved into more thoughtful and intentional observation and curiosity.



by Mike Keller-Wilson

I dive into the surface of the world.

Godlike and distant

Sizzle and buzz    in return

Clamber and crouch         draw near

Slalom through the dangling          be sated

Ooze and release

Fractalling into verdant

Even motorized and gravelling belongs to

Sudden fleshy and dull

Why this?

Hooked and caught





Thumping thrum

Thumping twang

Thumping burn

Thumping rush

Thumping silence

Thumping deeper



The world crouches, a gathering of legs. Leaping, dives deeper, deeper into me, into world, into me.

Mike Keller-Wilson is studying writing through the MFA program at University of Nebraska Omaha. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa. He currently teaches 7th grade in Iowa City, where he lives with his partner, Jordan, and their two cats.