Posted by: SDHSPress | 12/14/2009

Winter Solstice and Hope

All good things must end, they say, and whether this year-long blog has been worthwhile or not, its end has come. But if our lives are in synch with natural cycles, endings are also opportunities to begin.

Shortly after my book Waiting for Coyote’s Call: An Eco-memoir from the Missouri River Bluff was published last year, my editor at South Dakota State Historical Society Press, Martyn Beeny, suggested that I write a weekly blog of happenings on the Missouri River bluff—a kind of addendum to Coyote’s Call. I agreed to give it a try, and soon I was looking forward to sharing with readers each Monday some happening of the week on our bluff. Now the year has flown, and never a week has passed when “nothing happened.” There is a new wildflower in bloom, a blizzard to endure, a skunk spraying our backdoor with perfume or the sighting of a bird I’d never seen.

It’s been a great year, and I have accumulated 50 short essays of life in our prairies and woods and the thoughts this life has provoked. Truth is, I’ve been carrying a pocket notebook for 28 years, recording daily appointments, occurrences, thoughts and encounters with serendipity. Coyote’s Call itself grew in large measure from these notebooks, observations and ideas that otherwise might have vanished into the ether I breathe. So in fact this process is not new to me, except the technology, a new way of reaching out to friends old and new, readers and others who might take interest in the musings of an amateur naturalist whose eyes and heart are open to the workings of the ecosystem of which we are part.

I have appreciated the comments and reactions of readers who took time to respond, either directly to the blog, or indirectly in other ways. I have made new acquaintances with people who share my love of the natural world and who somehow related to my quirky way of seeing things. Thus, perhaps the end of my weekly posts is less a closing door than a door left ajar, a portal through which I peer further down the road, an opportunity to take these musings to a new audience through more traditional means. In short, I hope to shape these and other essays and observations, along with photographs, into a new book, something I might call “A Year on the Bluff.”

With winter solstice approaching, I close this phase of the journey with the final paragraph from Waiting for Coyote’s Call. I hope that my readers have enjoyed both blog and book, and I hope to see you all somewhere down the road.

Midnight, December 21st, the longest night of the year. In the kingdoms of birds, mammals and plants, this is a time of sleep. In the morning, in the new year, in the spring, we tell ourselves, all will be revived. The annual cycle of rebirth will come. But in the post-modern world, not all women and men take note. Will we humans, like the rest of creation, open our eyes tomorrow to a new world, a world in which renewal is both possible and required? We wait by the solstice fire for the coyote’s call.

Happy Trails,
Jerry Wilson



  1. I recently received WAITING FOR COYOTE’S CALL as a gift, and have so enjoyed your writing…
    both the book and your weekly blog. My husband and I live in a very similar landscape…
    cedar breaks west of Yankton…woods and ravines,
    native plants, abundant wildlife…and we ourselves are “amateur naturalists.”
    Our hearts are so close to your own experiences and observations. So not only am I fine-tuned
    to your subjects, but I find myself thoroughly immersed in your graceful writing style.
    You have written a rhapsody to this beautiful area we live in. Thank you for that. You have
    inspired several road trips…Spirit Mound and the Missouri River…fun to learn more about the
    landscape we call home. I will eagerly watch for your future writing. And I’ll be thinking of you
    sitting by the Solstice Fire. We will continue to open our hearts to the wonder around us…
    and think about how Jerry Wilson might capture it in words. Wishing you and your family
    a Merry Christmas.

    Bernita Mannes
    Yankton, SD

  2. Bernita, thank you very much for your kind words. I feel joy when I think of “neighbors” enjoying our world as I do. I hope we will meet one day.
    Happy holidays and best wishes,

  3. I too have enjoyed reading your blog & am sad to see it go.

    Melanie Cheney
    Missouri River Relief
    Columbia, MO

    • Hello Melanie,
      Thank you for your kind words. I hope the blog posts will remain active, at least for awhile, a way to continue communication. I hope you’ve seen my book, Waiting for Coyote’s Call, and I’ll let you know when and if “A Year on the Bluff” sees covers.
      Best wishes,

  4. Jerry, your weekly essays have been instructive and insightful on the connectedness of sentient beings in nature, your environment in SD. I’m so glad I found them.

    I will remember the hunter with bow and arrow that did not take a shot; the deer in winter that “Like sisters of a dozen generations, she had come home to die;” Joey the pig sensing approaching winter squalls before humans; and the irony of being deeply committed to sustaining balance with your technology, but then the sound of the black-billed cuckoo colliding with structure that did not sustain its flight. These, in particular resonate with me. I will not forget these things.

    I do hope that occasionally you will post your progress this coming year in a note, for I will keep your blog active in my regular searching for excellent writing about nature.

    I look forward to your future compositions, knowing that Observations from a Missouri Bluff are not only insightful, but also reverant of earth and sky and creatures in between.

    I think your year with the blogsphere was very well spent. Good luck on your writing this next year.

    Jack Matthews
    Flying Hat Horses
    Mingus, Texas

    • Hi Jack,
      Thanks for all your kind words. It really is inspiring to me to know that somebody has actually internalized images and experiences and remembers them! That is the way I like to read and respond to the writings of others too.

      I hope the blog posts will remain active for awhile, at least, a way to continue communication. I’ll let you know when and if “A Year on the Bluff” sees covers.

      Best wishes, and have a good Christmas in Mingus.

  5. Thank you Jerry, it’s been a nice blog to keep up and identify with. I’ll miss checking up on it…

    • Hi Nick,
      I appreciate your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. The good thing is that I’m now putting that time and creative energy into other writing, specifically short fiction. I hope to have a collection of short stories to begin seeking a publisher soon.
      Best wishes,

  6. Hi Jerry,

    Hope all is well with you on this first day of spring. I know it must be cold up there because it’s cold down here in Texas. How is the photography going with your writing? Best of luck.


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