Monday, December 8, 2014

Give a gift of green

By David Horst 

The latest possible Thanksgiving date has caught you by surprise and left you with gaping holes on your Christmas gift idea list.

Why not check off the nature lovers on your list and support worthy environmental causes at the same time by giving gifts from nature groups? Many offer hats, shirts, calendars, books or other gear displaying their logo and the user's convictions.

Here are a few ideas I found web surfing while contemplating Thanksgiving morning's gentle snowfall.
  • How about showing the recipient means business about his or her environmental beliefs by giving a Sierra Club briefcase to tote to work? (
  • The Audubon Society offers some of the most beautiful cards you’ll find, or anything from shade-grown coffee to a clock that chirps a different bird call each hour. (

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Need to thank vets driven home

Veteran of the Year Bill Goralski
By David Horst 

Normally I write this column about nature topics. Today, the closest I'll come to that is human nature.

I want to tell you about an experience last weekend. How I experienced it was shaped by growing up while my country was involved in an unjustifiable and wasteful war, and growing up with a father who was happiest when his head was under the hood of a car.

Later in life, my dad bought the car he wanted as a young man. This is a special vehicle, even among collectable cars. It's a 1958 Ford Skyliner, known more popularly as a "retractable."

The car has a solid hardtop that -- thanks to the best engineering of the mid 1950s -- retracts into the trunk. With the passing of my dad almost a year and a half ago, the car has been in my care.

But this story is not about cars, it's about veterans.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Weather is key to popular locks paddle

Paddlers pack into Appleton lock #4 on their way to
Sunset Point Park in Kimberly. David Horst photo
By David Horst

iving history,  unseasonable warmth and the promise of eagles — all trimmed in fall color — made for a perfect combination to draw a crowd to the last Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Paddle of the season.

We had 194 paddlers take to their kayaks, canoes and stand-up boards to tour the four Appleton locks Saturday, Sept. 27. We launched from Appleton’s Lutz Park and landed just over two hours later 6.5 miles downstream at Kimberly’s Sunset Point Park.

Along the way, four lockages courtesy of the Fox River Navigational System Authority required sardine-like proximity for the 130 paddle craft, two 10-person voyageur canoes and safety patrol boats from the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department and Appleton Fire Department.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mistreating wildlife for grins:
Who thinks like that?

By David Horst

Driving west on State 96 short of Medina recently, I saw an impressive turtle sitting just across the centerline.

Whooping crane training at the White River Marsh, Princeton.
Based on its size and the height of its rounded shell, I’d guess it was a Blanding’s, a threatened species in Wisconsin.

I watched in the rearview mirror as a pickup truck bore down on it and then edged over to avoid the turtle. Once I shed the traffic around me, I turned around and went back to do the Boy Scout routine and help the turtle across the highway.

When I got to the spot, the turtle was gone, apparently already helped to the shoulder by someone else. Faith in humanity restored.

My opinion of some of my fellow Wisconsinites had been flagging after reading about two instances of interaction with wildlife.