“Every time 36 acres of meadow, woodland, prairie or forest is cleared to create another subdivision or strip mall, we are losing a Reed-Turner Woodland,” says photographer and author Tobin Fraley.
The Long Grove resident, who owns Woodland Grove Gallery with wife Rachel, began his love affair with Reed-Turner Woodland in 1999. He has since photographed it thousands of times, capturing its endless moods in all seasons. Many of these photographs, along with Fraley’s poetic observations, appear in his new book, 36 Acres: A Portrait of the Reed-Turner Woodland Nature Preserve, excerpted here with his permission.
“For me to state that we should just stop building new homes or offices would be naive,” concedes Fraley. “Even so, the idea that 36 acres of beauty, tranquility and biological diversity are leveled to build another bank, pharmacy, or supermarket, when those amenities already exist a few hundred yards down the road, is not always carefully thought through prior to breaking ground.”
Of the powerful impact the woodlands have on his life, Fraley writes: “There are days I want to just stop. When I want to grip the present and pull the plug on time itself, but the hours race by. The distance between dawn and dusk seems measured in blinks; a day that carried a morning’s promise is suddenly awash in a night sky.
“Yet there is a way to stretch time and slow the hands of the clock, simply by walking in the woods and watching. It is at these moments when I can actually see the day pass, when I can notice the shadows creep across the forest floor and follow an ant’s trek over giant twigs or hear the stream’s gentle murmur. Nature opens the space between the seconds and allows me to rediscover the beauty of a day.”
Fraley, who’s written four other books, also teaches photography at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum. Reed-Turner Woodland, 3849 Old McHenry Road, is owned by the Long Grove Park District. Learn more at www.36acres.com.