Hi, I’m Eric Gyllenhaal, and this blog is about the nature my children and I find near our home. We plan to photograph and write about the animals, plants, fungi, and rocks that we encounter in our neighborhood in south Oak Park, Illinois.
I’m the Dad, and I’ve have been interested in nature and science since I was a boy. I have degrees in natural resources, geology, and paleontology, and my careers have included working in and for museums of many types, but especially natural history and children’s museums. One of my out-of-work projects has been the Salt the Sandbox website. At present, I’m taking time off from work to develop a series of writing projects that help parents understand and support their children’s interests in nature and science — starting with what I have learned raising my own children.
My children are Ethan, 13, and Aaron, 12. As they’ve grown, they’ve developed a wide variety of nature, science and technology interests. Right now they are passionately interested in birds, but they have also been interested in turtles, dinosaurs, plants, rocks, fish, fossils, gems, cars, and trains.
Our home is in south Oak Park, Illinois — an older suburb, densely packed with people, just west of Chicago. The nature we write about will be whatever we find within walking distance of our home — along our residential streets, in our backyard, or in local parks (including Columbus Park on the west side of Chicago, where we monitor birds for the local Audubon Society). We plan to post at least twice a week, focusing on both things that change with the seasons (like plants and animals) and the things that stay the same (like the rocks used to build and decorate local buildings).
We hope this blog will become a resource for other families who want to explore nature in their neighborhoods.