Woman Finds Refuge in Nature
Retired Teacher Turns Birder
I am a retired teacher. I have 2 daughters and 3 amazing grandchildren that I try to inspire to get out in nature. I like to bike, run, walk and look for birds in the forest preserves.
Discovering DuPage Forest Preserves
I discovered DuPage forest preserves about 15 years ago biking the trails, but really got to know them when my husband and I built a home in Winfield.
Anna Testone enjoys birdwatching in DuPage forest preserves.
Favorite Forest Preserve and Times to Visit
It’s difficult to choose my favorite forest preserve when we have so many in DuPage, which is a great problem to have.
The first preserve I started exploring and go to most often is Lincoln Marsh in Wheaton. I first noticed it on bike rides on the Illinois Prairie Path and stopped at the overlook. The first day I actually drove over and walked around it I couldn’t believe what a great place it was and only 10 minutes from my house.
It’s a small preserve compared to many others, but it’s packed with a variety of habitats. There’s marsh, woodlands and prairie, and you can walk through all of it in one trip. I have seen very interesting birds there such as cuckoos and scarlet tanagers. I’ve run into a family of deer and even an American mink — who knew they lived here?
It’s really a lovely place to go in the early morning when all you hear is the sound of nature: Birds chirping their songs and zipping around as if no one is watching makes it a favorite time of day. My favorite time of the year has to be spring migration with myriad warblers constantly singing and flitting here and there.
Anna Testone at her favorite forest preserve, Lincoln Marsh in Wheaton.
What Brings Her Back Time and Time Again
Nature just seems to call me back and fills me with a peaceful feeling of truly living in each moment instead of thinking about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. No matter the weather or season I find refuge out in the woods and prairies. My stress, my worries just disappear the moment I step into the woods.
Catching the Nature Bug
At the age of 20 I went on my first camping trip with friends. It rained a lot and we had smoky campfires at night, but the last two days we canoed and hiked in the beautiful forests. I was hooked for life.
Favorite Thing to Do in the Preserves
While I still bike and run, my favorite thing to do in the forest preserves is birding. I’ve always loved birds but now that love is on steroids! My daughter Rachel got me to join some birding groups on Facebook and the rest is history.
Once I saw the birds others were finding, I wanted to go out and find them too. I have made many friends out in the woods and learned so much from them. Birding has also led me to photography. Once I see a beautiful bird I want to show others what’s right outside our doors.
There is so much to learn that when I’m not outdoors I’m exercising my brain learning about habitats and migration. Ebird is also a great source for birders and gives us a chance to be a part of something global. Recording what birds you find helps scientist all over the world figure out what is going on with migration and climate change.
How Nature Inspires
Nature inspires me to be a better person. Realizing how interrelated we all are I think about how I can help. It inspires me to see beauty wherever I am.
Being in nature so much has taught me to be content with who and what I am. Everything in nature has purpose and is connected to every other thing in nature. No one species of birds is more important than another, nor one butterfly from another. They’re all important and part of our earth. Nature helped me understand that I can be content with the person I am today, right now. I don’t have to be famous or rich, I just need to be me.
Favorite Nature Quote
Although I never thought of a favorite quote, I found one that fits me perfectly from a man I much admire for all his accomplishments in saving nature:
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” ~ John Muir
Advice to Others
I would ask “What are you waiting for?” Studies have shown being outdoors is one of the best things you can do for your health both physically and mentally. What have you got to lose? It’s absolutely free!
Anna Testone lines up a shot at Lincoln Marsh in Wheaton.