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Woman Relishes 'Gift' of Nature

Emily Tipping has lived in Warrenville since 2004. "I’m an outdoor lover — hiking, casual birdwatching, gardening, and bicycling," she said.  

She also loves to write, play piano and sing, occasionally in public. Most recently, she was the featured performer at The Venue in Aurora, covering the album Pearl by Janis Joplin. She's an editor full-time.

"Since 2006, I’ve been lucky to get to work from home some days," Tipping said. "So I’ve gotten very familiar with my local preserves as I take near-daily walks with my dog (Bella the boxer) and occasionally my almost 14-year-old daughter." 

Tipping took time to share her feelings about catching nature in DuPage forest preserves.


Discovering DuPage Forest Preserves

I’ve been a nature lover since I was a kid. Like many, I was outside as much as possible all through the summer.

I grew up in Normal, Ill., and moved to Chicago in 1998. No nature in a backyard there, so I relied on the lakefront to be my place to go be outside.

I moved to Warrenville and within a couple of weeks had biked through Warrenville Grove Forest Preserve up to McDowell Grove Forest Preserve, as well as around the McKee Marsh end of Blackwell Forest Preserve. Then when I started working from home, I started taking long walks, bringing my binoculars along to watch birds.


A photo taken by Emily Tipping from the Cenacle bridge at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville.

What Brings Her Back Time and Time Again

What a gift it is to have these wild places practically in our backyards. Nature has always been my respite. I have long known that the best medicine for a troubled mind is a walk outside, and I am ridiculously grateful to be able to simply walk out my front door and be immersed in nature within minutes.

Interestingly, over the past month as we’ve been so isolated, I’ve thought about how many people I see regularly on my walks — people I have seen regularly for more than a decade! When your circle is reduced to the community that immediately surrounds you, you start to recognize the value of these special encounters with familiar faces.

I’ve learned a lot from some of those folks — about birds, native plants and woodland flowers.

all- the-yellow-flowers

Emily Tipping took this photo of a field of beautiful yellow flowers at Blackwell Forest Preserve's McKee Marsh.

Catching the Nature Bug

When I was a kid in Normal, my dad took us out a lot to some of the little nature trails in the area. When I was a teenager, he tried to teach me birdwatching, but I was too impatient. In my late teens and early 20s, I spent a lot of time exploring some of the trails in central Illinois (Starved Rock and Matthiessen state parks were favorites).

I had some outdoor adventures with friends back then, too. Trips to hike in various parks in the Four Corners area (Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico). A trip to Wyoming, California, Colorado, South Dakota. We hiked everywhere we went. I still try to find at least one good trail to hike when I travel.


McDowell Forest Preserve in Naperville

Favorite Thing to Do in the Preserves

Just quietly walking with the dog, pausing in my favorite spots to take it all in.

How Nature Inspires

Immersion in nature is a way to get out of your head and into your body and senses. In doing so, your head is free to leapfrog ahead of you and come up with all kinds of creative ideas. When I am stumped on a project for work, a walk in the woods usually helps.

I also take a little notebook along with me every time I walk. Sometimes I bring my camera. There are a million ways to be inspired outside. Sometimes I just make a little sketch. But I also write.

Two years ago (2016 – 2017), I wrote something in my notebook every time I went to McKee Marsh, and also kept track of all the birds I saw when I was out. I’ve actually been publishing those entries, as “fieldnotes” on my blog since September. (


The bridge at Warrenville Grove Forest Preserve in Warrenville.

Advice to Others

Just go out there! Go often! Go to the same place that you always go, and appreciate how it changes subtly every time you’re there. Go to new places and take them in.

Especially right now, when we’re all getting a little stir-crazy and anxious. Go outside. It helps.


Tipping took this photo of a swallowtail on a flower at Blackwell's McKee Marsh.


If you have a fun or unique way of catching nature in our preserves and would like to be featured in a “Catching Nature” blog, please contact Deb Humiston at


Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

Photo of blog author Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County welcomes more than 6.2 million visitors a year; and manages nearly 26,000 acres in 60 forest preserves containing prairies, woodlands and wetlands.

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