Greetings, friends. So there I was, dizzy with eating and pooping and eating and pooping, and the next thing I know I'm all the way up to the surface of the soil. And brother, am I ever glad I'm me, because when I surfaced, I squirmed right into this neat guy named Dan Hazlett. Dan is an artist where I live, which is pretty loose talk, since I live underground, and when you're underground, well, you're pretty much all over the place because the underground is everywhere. It's all connected, and so are we.
Ovie: G'morning, sir. Is this your place?
Dan Hazlett: WOAH! A talking worm!
Ovie: Hey! Shhhh...keep it down, wouldja? I'm trying to lay low. Say, this sure is some excellent soil here in your vegetable garden.
Dan: Ah, thanks for noticing. I am an active composter, after all.
Ovie: Composter? You write music?
Dan: That'd be composer. No, I don't write music. But I do write journals. I write journals and draw pictures.
Ovie: What do you mean "journals?" What kind of pictures?
Dan: I write a monthly column called "Down Nature's Trail" and I draw pictures of nature lots of birds, mammals, prairie plants, that sort of stuff.
Ovie: DAN HAZLETT?!
Dan: Hey!...shhh. Keep it down, wouldja? You'll spook the critters What's the big deal, anyway?
Ovie: I'm your biggest fan! I love reading your column, and your drawings are always so amazing. I mean, wow when I signed up to do The Underground, I never dreamed I'd run into
Ovie: Hey!...shhh. Keep it down, wouldja? I'm trying to lay low, okay? So how long have you been drawing?
Dan: Oh, since I was four. My best friend's dad was an art professor at the University of Wisconsin. He always brought home big sheets of paper and encouraged us to draw. He really inspired me. He was my first mentor. But I've had lots of mentors.
Ovie: Lots? Like who?
Dan: Well, his wife was a botanist. She used to take us out for walks and point out all of the different plants and tell us their names. That's who taught me an appreciation for the native prairies. They've all but disappeared from our landscape now.
Ovie: I'm not sure if I like the sound of that. Can we bring the prairies back?
Dan: Well, one way to turn things around is to teach the children to do it. If school children spent one hour each day, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, learning about the natural world around us what it is, what it was, and what we want it to become, we'd start to see some real results in the very near future.
Ovie: Sounds great to me But that sounds like a message for adults.
Dan: I guess it is. As much as I like talking to children, I like talking to adults, too. The big people can help the little people develop a heart-felt compassion for the earth.
Ovie: So we need the adults to encourage the children to learn about the natural world so that the children can take care of it when they get older. But what can a kid do? I think it's mostly kids that read my interviews.
Dan: Well, here's a thought. Take some time to think and learn about nature. It all starts in your own mind, in your own personal space. Slow down and find nature. If you can't find it, ask an adult to take you to it. The more time you spend in nature, the more you'll understand nature. You don't have to wait for someone to teach you. If you need help, ask for it. There is a really neat person inside each one of us. If you stay focused on the things that matter most to you, you can teach yourself what you want to learn.
Ovie: Squirm-o-rama! Self reliance! Have you been reading Walt Whitman?!
Dan: When I was a kid, yes. Sorry to cut it short, but, I think it's time for me to get back to the drawing board, and time for you to get back underground to nourish our soil.
You can read Dan Hazlett's most recent journal entry and his entire archive on the Organic Valley website!