Ani Nercissian

Ani Nercissian

Winter hit Chicago with full force recently, but that doesn’t mean we need to huddle inside. The Forest Preserves of Cook County offer numerous fun outdoor activities.

Winter in the Preserves means cross country skiing, sleddingsnowmobilingice fishing, or ice skating on one of the many frozen ponds. Feeling inspired by the 2018 Winter Olympics?

  • Put your physical skills to the test at the 2018 Forest Preserves Winter Olympics! Or maybe you want to learn the calls and the history of various bird species at the Preserves? There’s an opportunity to do that, too, on Feb.  24.
  • There’s no need to lament the snow; the Preserves offer a free snowshoeing on Feb.  19.
  • If you’d rather not be outside, on Feb.  22, there will be a book club meeting focused on “Coyote America” by Don Flores.
  • If, like me, you like foraging for mushrooms and edible plants, there are ample opportunities to do so at the Preserves—even during the winter. On 25, there will be an opportunity to explore the sugar maple forest and learn about how maple syrup is made.

Whether you’re a birder, a mycologist, a botanist, a cyclist, or simply someone who seeks refuge from the city noise, the Cook County Forest Preserves offer something for everyone.

My only regret is that I didn’t discover the Cook County Forest Preserves sooner. As city dwellers, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the city. There are no missed Ls, no long lines at the grocery store, and no work deadlines at the Preserves. It’s teeming with life in, seemingly, a whole other world.

I’ve felt a connection with nature for as long as I can remember. Whether admiring the vast growth of plants in my backyard or being amazed by the variety of trees and wildlife in a preserve, nature has provided me with opportunities to recalibrate. William Wordsworth refers to nature as a great teacher, and at the Forest Preserves of Cook County, there is so much for us all to learn.

Ani Nercissian enjoys cooking, reading, yoga, dancing, playing piano, and spending as much time as she can exploring the natural world. She hopes to inspire other Chicagoans to take advantage of the vast natural world around them.


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