When I was three years old, I lost sight in my left eye in a freak accident while playing with a friend in the park. The permanent vision loss in that eye didn’t cause any lasting problems (outside of my woeful inability to hit a fastball in high school baseball), but I think it led me to refrain from many of the rough-and-tumble activities typical for a young boy. Instead, I spent hours studying my parents’ copy of Roger Tory Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, and I leapt at any opportunity to take nature walks with my father. I can’t prove it, but I believe there’s a direct, if faint, line running from that accident to the founding of this magazine.
I was fortunate to wind up with my sight mostly intact. Some folks aren’t so lucky. In this issue of Bay Nature, we take a look at some of the ways that people with greater physical limitations than mine have come to embrace and connect with the natural world. Frankly, as a society, we haven’t done a great job of inviting people with disabilities to share the benefits (both individual and social) of exploring nature. But there are some dynamic people in the Bay Area who haven’t been content to accept the closed doors, and it has been an “eye-opening” experience for me to work with a few of them on this issue’s center section on “Accessible Outdoors.” It gives me special pleasure to share some of their powerful stories with you.
I’m also thrilled to bring you a redesigned and thicker Bay Nature. Thanks to a grant from the Dean Witter Foundation, we are able to add some new content to the magazine, starting with “Families Afield,” a regular column that presents an aspect of the natural world in a way that is both kid-friendly and informative to all of us. We’re also bringing back our popular (but lately absent) column “Ask the Naturalist,” putting it in the capable hands of beloved stand-up naturalist Michael Ellis. (Send us your questions, please!) “Signs of the Season,” focusing on a seasonal species or phenomenon, is being upgraded from an occasional to a regular column. And we’re introducing “Conservation in Action,” a column that looks at a different ongoing conservation project each quarter. Finally, we’ve added a page of short hike descriptions to our “On the Trail” feature, to let you know about several additional interesting places to go. Several more new features will be introduced in our January issue.
I didn’t manage to finagle more space for my letter in the redesign process, so before I run out of space, let me just say that we’d love to hear from you about this issue and its new contents and updated design: Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you like and what you don’t. We might even publish your letter in the “Letters From Our Readers” section, which will return soon. Until then, have a great fall and holiday season.