The Promise of Spring

It was a beautiful day today with snow and ice melting, water rushing in the gutters, geese squawking as they flew overhead, songbirds singing, and the smell of spring in the air. While I know it’s still February and winter is far from over in Wisconsin, it signaled that hope of spring and the promise of new beginnings.

For me, hiking in nature is an essential activity to stay connected to the universe, the animal world, and my own humanity. I hike in the winter once in a while, but far more in the spring, summer, and fall. But last year, just as spring was arriving in March, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with colon cancer and several days later had surgery to remove part of my colon and to put in a temporary ileostomy. I was out of work and out of energy for months and later in the year had a minor surgery to have the ileostomy removed.

The recovery has progressed well, but the ordeal kept me from getting out into the woods except for a few shorter hikes, and that left me feeling unfulfilled in so many ways. I need that connection with our natural world to be more human. Especially as a person living in a city, it is easy to lose contact with who you are without that. It is easy to lose contact with our own elemental nature. I believe we were designed to be connected with nature and for me it is an emotional need that springs from my core.

So today, walking outside even for a short jaunt and hearing sounds, smelling scents, and seeing grassy lawns that disappear during our bleak winters here reminded me that although we will have more snow and more cold before it is over, we are on the road toward a new season. This year, though I am still out of shape from being bedridden, I will welcome those glorious walks in the woods to meet so many living things in so many varieties and colors, from insects to wildflowers to mammals that cross my path as I explore their worlds with them. I will not only be fully recovered from the cancer, but more fully human again.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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