Ah, the rich color palette of the woodlands. The complex tapestry is really something to behold. The brilliant greens of new growth on a pine, the range of browns and grays in the various barks, the deep greens and yellow golds of mosses and lichens on tree trunks and rock faces - nature is quite the artist!

And speaking of artists, in past issues of Woods Reader magazine we’ve seen work from talented artists such as Adam Swanson, Vera Ming Wong and Hal Rime. The Summer 2019 issue will feature a painting and essay by Bernadette Kazmarski, and it’s sure to delight. So much in store for our readers - thank you for joining us as we wander through the woods!


The mystery of the missing feeder

It was deep into this past winter when the feeder mysteriously disappeared.  Bewildered, I stood in the spot next to the tree from which it hung.  I looked to the east.  No feeder.  I looked to the west.  No feeder.  I looked to the north.  No feeder.  Looking south had the same result.  No fresh snow had fallen to cover it up, no fresh tracks in the snow revealed an unusual visitor to the scene.  I was flummoxed.

New feeders have slowly been added to the tree line over the years, attrition from our weather and, more excitingly, a visit from a bear claiming them every now and then.  This one was a recent addition – a small, spherical wire mesh feeder perfect for small birds.  Since the bears were all sound asleep, my mind turned to other local mammals – deer, squirrels, a wayward owl perhaps?

Disappointment reigned.  Many a chickadee, nuthatch and downy woodpecker had visited regularly, filling up with sunflower seeds to carry them through those cold, crisp nights.  Nothing to do but fill the void with another feeder.  And wonder…

This spring brought with it slooooooooowly warming temperatures and, in turn, sloooooooowly melting snow.  A couple weeks in and the missing sphere-o-sunflower-snackbar has been found!  It was twenty feet away from the tree from which it hung, hanging close to the ground near a large fallen limb. Elated, I braved the still knee-deep snow to retrieve it and put it back in use.  However, even as I sit and gaze upon the returning chickadees, I realize that the mystery has yet to be solved.  

What scenario plays out in your mind to explain the mystery of the missing feeder?


Electric white

It was another frosty morning. In spite of the dreariness of a landscape bathed in browns and grays, the promise of coming cold weather propelled me out for a walk in the woods. And I’m happy it did! Striking contrast appeared everywhere, shaking off any potential of the doldrums from settling in. The branches, covered in frost, appeared a brilliant electric white against the deep brown of the tree trunks. A stimulating excursion, to be sure.

Wishing you exciting finds today during all your explorations!


What the fallen leaves reveal

Gone are the late summer warmth and lush green of the treescape, here to stay (for a while, at least) are the chilly temperatures and snowflakes. During the transition to white, I like to walk around the woods and peek deep into the branches to see what treasures were hidden by the dense fabric of leaves the trees had worn. Bird nests are one of my favorite finds. Tucked into the branches, cleverly hidden little tangles of twigs, mud, grasses and whatever else these opportunistic avians find to create a wind and weather resistant architecture appear in new locations every year. I mentally take note, and compare what I remember from previous years. My walks this year have revealed a good year for bird nests - lots of them in new places. Next up, a walk with the kids to see how many they can spot that I missed!

Wishing you wonderful walks in the woods from all of us here at Woods Reader!


Seeking Spring


Seeking Spring

Oh the trees, the trees, seeking spring despite the snow in flight,
Struggling to be seen against a sea of white.
Trunks and branches concealed in a coat of snow.
Lines reaching for the sky from the earth below.

Longing for speckled sunlight upon the forest floor,
Awaiting the gentle rains’ return and rich petrichor.
Waiting for the emergence of buds and blooms it brings,
When will it come and bless this woods, oh the spring, the spring?

~E. Jones


Have a thoughtful poem or personal experience about the woods?  Visit our Submissions page at to see how you could be published in an upcoming issue.

Spring is here! ...somewhere...

It may be spring in the astronomical sense, but many are still waiting for some of the more anticipated indications that spring has arrived.  To get past the dreary, gray day here at Woods Reader, we are thinking about our favorite signs that spring truly has arrived.  These include sounds of birdsong from returning bird species, the emergence of Lily of the Valley with its delicate scent, the soft tufts of the pussy willow and the pitter-pat of rain dripping from branches onto the forest floor.  What are your favorite signs of spring in the woods? 

Announcing the Short Fiction Challenge!

"Once upon a time, I was hiking through the afternoon and saw a distant forest, deep and dark. And then I noticed a single path that led into it, a path just wide enough to walk between the brambles and wild roses. Had it been there before? Or was this my own invitation, materializing at my feet?"

What happens next? Finish this story for a chance to be published in the June issue of Woods Reader!

Details: Send your fiction of 1,000 words or less to us either by email to editor at woodsreader dot com (paste your story into the body of an email, attachments are not opened) or by mail to Woods Reader, PO Box 46, Warren, MN 56762 (please enclose a self addressed stamped envelope if you would like your challenge story returned to you).

Deadline: March 30, 2018.

Announcing the first issue!


We are excited to announce the mailing of our first issue of Woods Reader!  Subscribers can expect to see it arrive in their mailbox later this week.  This issue features beautiful imagery from nature photographers Donna Rae Anderson, Sparky Stensaas and Scott Farley, along with a variety of stories to peruse – there’s something for anyone who loves the woods!

If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so from the Subscriptions page at  We also have single sample issues available to purchase there as well.



Wilder than a March Hare. Wait, it is a March Hare!

Welcome to March!  It's another beautiful day, perfect for a morning stroll during which we happened to turn up a White-tailed Jackrabbit hanging out in the treeline.  Off it bounded, just like a kangaroo, across a field toward another wooded windbreak.  While not a woodland creature, the woods is where we found this beauty, which tells us that the woods is the place to be! 


Stranger in the Woods

Children find such delight in being outside and playing with things they find in the woods.  Sometimes, when no one is looking, those very things make their way inside the house and into a heap on the table!  As I returned from my morning visit to our hens, I found just such a heap appropriately positioned atop the corner of one of our favorite children’s books, Stranger in the Woods.


Stranger in the Woods, by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, takes readers on a photographic adventure of woodland proportion as the creatures in a forest investigate a new resident that appears after a fresh snowfall.  We’ll review this classic in more depth in the February issue of Woods Reader.  You will also be able to purchase the book from the Woods Reader Marketplace, opening on Monday, February 19 at our website:

And off I go, to cuddle with kiddos during story time.  Happy reading!

~WR Staff

Even on a dreary winter morning, the forest holds a myriad of delights to brighten the day

The sun hasn’t broken free for days and, despite the mild weather, that can really dampen one’s mood.  What is one to do?  Take to the woods, I say!  And this morning I did just that. 

The moment I enter the tree line, I feel a sense of immediate relief.  There is so much around to capture my attention and divert my mind from the gloom of the cloudy day.  The complex shapes and movements in the woods, the sound of the wind moving through leafless branches above me, the crunch of the thick crust that formed atop the deep snow below my boots as I traverse the forest floor.  A blue jay calls, a chickadee flutters to my right, I spot a gaping entrance to something’s home in a large branch.  I can feel the tightness drain from my shoulders.  Ahhhh.

Just then, my mobile rings and I am jerked back to reality.  Darn! 

Since I have it out, I take a picture of a cool (no pun intended), but probably not uncommon find.  A squirrel has tunneled under the snow, no doubt a secret passageway to avoid the meddling foxes that frequent our forest.  I’ve seen them disappear and reappear some distance apart, and now I know how. 


Squirrels are some of the busiest movers and shakers in our woods and, like them or not, they are credited with the frequent cultivation of trees. Although the jury is still out on whether squirrels “forget” where they’ve buried their nuts, or simply create a worse-case-scenario’s number of caches, they are considered an essential asset in the renewal of a variety of tree species.  They even use tactical deception – they pretend to bury seeds when they know they are being watched! 

Returning home and feeling rejuvenated, I think, "Yes, the woods are full of veritable James Bonds."  And, I can’t wait to visit again.

~WR Staff

The Edge of the Woods

I recall calling my neighbor when I saw smoke rising along the edge of his field over the trees. 

“Thank you,” Frank said after hopping in his truck to see what was happening.  “That’s something I’ve never seen.”

The smoke above the trees was actually a cloud of mosquitoes undulating along the pointed pine tops. 

That particular field along the edge of the woods was a magical space.  It’s where I watched a silvery fox playing with frogs.  It’s where I saw a rainbow actually touch down in front of the trees.  

It’s where I ran off the road. Frank drove his old tractor through the snow to pull me and our two small children safely out.  (After that the children and I sang “Slo-o-ow down, you move too fast” on every curve.)

We live on the edge of wild woods, but there are other more domestic woodlands: tree farms, backyard woodlots, city parks.  I believe in those woods, too.  They can give us space to breathe: a bit of freedom in a regulated life.

This magazine was born to share woodland experiences.  We hope to create a put-your-feet-up in front of the fire, start-the-purr on the cat in your lap and sip-hot-chocolate type of reader that makes the trip to the mailbox worthwhile.