Summer Days and Summer Nights - U of I Extension

News Release

Summer Days and Summer Nights

This article was originally published on July 19, 2018 and expired on September 15, 2018. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

There are many things that come to mind when you say summer.  My childhood summers were spent at the pool or just running around the woods and creeks with my friends.  Summer offers so many opportunities to explore and experience nature.  Here are a few ideas to get you out in nature this summer.

  1. Go for a hike- I know that summer is hot and that hiking does not sound all that fun, but there is so much to be seen and heard when you are on a hike in the summer.  Hiking in the woods is so much cooler than being out in the open.  The temperature in a wooded area is much cooler than out in the open sun.  When you get down into some of the low spots on your hike you will notice the temperature change even more.  It makes the woods and the valleys in the woods that much more appealing.  The hikers at Starved Rock State Park and the parks that are nearby are rewarded with amazing waterfalls or beautiful views of the Illinois River.  The geology and topography in the Starved Rock area makes you forget you are in Illinois.  The bright flash of a Cardinal flitting through the trees or the sight of a wood pecker climbing up and down a tree is always exciting.  The sounds of the woods are just as rewarding as the views.  If you take time to listen you will hear birds all around you and the simple serenity all around you. 
  2. Camping- I love to go camping even in the summer.  I love to wake up to the sound of birds singing and I always feel more refreshed for having slept out in the open. You do not have to go far to find a good place to camp.  If you have never been camping, find a friend to take you and you might just find your next obsession.
  3. Just sit in nature and look and listen- No matter where you go there is a flurry of activity in the summer.  The beauty of the prairie in full bloom is simply breath taking.  The flurry of life in the prairie is a stark counter point to the serenity of the woods.  There is constant movement and activity in the prairies.  The rapid movement of the birds and butterflies and the gentile ebb and flow of the wind over the grasses and flowers are accompanied by the gentle bombilation of the wings of the insects and the song of the blackbirds. An evening spent on the edge of a prairie will show you hundreds of insects buzzing around, and bumble bees and butterflies are just the beginning.  Birds and bats will also be present.  Swallows and swifts will be doing acrobatics and bats will join them as it starts to get dark.

Nature is so very important to every aspect of life and should be a part of everyone’s life.  Nature is so much closer than many people think.  Even in the most urban environments in Illinois nature can be found and easily accessed.  There are some excellent examples of natural areas in Chicago and the surrounding counties.  There are nature preserves throughout Illinois including in the Chicago area.  Even in the urban natural areas there is a sense of serenity and the sound of the cities quickly fades away.  Find your little pocket of nature to recharge your batteries and visit it regularly.  You may just find that you are much better for it.  Find a local natural or hiking area at or by searching for your county for forest preserve or natural areas. 

Source: Jason Haupt, Extension Educator, Energy and Environmental Stewardship,

Pull date: September 15, 2018