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Artist/Naturalist Pages
Kay Grindland

Kay Grindland is an artist in mutiple forms. Primarily a poet, she is also an accomplished storyteller, singer and songwriter. She's traveled throughout the Midwest, performing "Stories and Songs of the Earth" and has published two poetry collections. Her latest book is "Passage."

Kay leads artist residencies in storytelling, poetry and using natural sounds to make music. Kay is an avid camper and woodswoman year-round. Kay has built her own home in the woods near Grand Marais, Minnesota.

Kay has worked for over 15 years as an interpretive naturalist, teaching children and adults at Minnesota's St. Croix State Park, Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, Lake Carlos ELC, and Hennepin County Parks nature centers. Kay taught artists and teachers in six summer workshops for Self Expressing Earth of Hamline University, and developed some brilliant curriculum for teaching ecology through art making.

Most recently Kay has been on-site coordinator at Norcroft, a writing retreat for women on Lake Superior's North Shore.

Kay has worked with John Seed and Joanna Macy, and has led many workshops in Deep Ecology, especially The Council of All Beings.  

In Her Own Words

Writing or singing is how I teach myself (or remember) how to be in love with the world. I learn something new with every poem I write--and then I get to share that with others when I share my poems or songs. I think when we make art, we take little pieces of the world (words or sounds or colors) and put them together in a new way into something new and beautiful. It reminds us that things do belong together, that even if sometimes the world feels broken--the pieces do fit back together, that we are all part of something bigger.

As a naturalist, I am most interested in understanding my own connection to Earth and to help others explore how much we are a part of the land. I like helping others discover a sense of wonder, mystery and belonging with the Earth. I especially enjoy paying attention to trees and to the changing of the seasons. I have several favorite trees I visit often and I am always noticing each little flavor and nuance of the cycles of the year and the weather. 


Everything sings. 
Birds do, of course  
Even trees 

have their own songs.  
Wolves make easy
running rhythms. 

Water plays in
and back beat drop

No song is ever
Frogs collaborate
with fish  
and pond
water. Insects hum 

to the beat of bird
Sunrise in spring  
is a symphony. 

Imagine the
in a forest, in a
inside of you? 

If you listen,  
you will find one. 

If you sing  
it won't be a solo. 


Snowshoe hare turns her stillness  
toward the lake like she has an eye  
for a rare sunrise. 

Ice went out last evening,breaking up
fast  in deep swells. White rafts and
hummocks of ice drifted out, easy, all night. 

At dawn, the lake is so still  
I wonder if it has frozen again. 

Then I see sun bounce  
its yellow off the lake and the water  
quiver in the wind as if five months of snow
nd ice were a dream. 

The lake, so easy intimate  
with every hue and breeze and breath
of light. The whole feathered dome of sky 

held in the bowl of its own beauty,  
a reunion of earth and sky, 
rounds out the edges of winter. 

Crow calls.  
I couldn't agree more. 


I often walk into woods at night,
hoping for a moment of grace. Trees
make no pacts with despair.

All year, they hold hearts open to wind.
Each branch greeting light.
Even in winter, their buds ready.

Their belief is earthed, founded
underground, fed from roots grasping
darkness in soil's decay.

It is this bridge--braiding life
between shadow and light
that I embrace.


We fling ourselves
through the morning sun
into the frigid water of Lake Superior
and are quickly tossed back out.

Down the beach
I find an old log--half submerged
in the sand. Something
in the crouch of its back, in the sprawling
stunted roots reminds me
of my first land ancestor.

The twisted wood grins
with the oddity
of dry sand, air
soft and shocking, its eyes wide
for danger

and possibility.

I love the way
we living
will wander on to anything
to see if it will hold us,

the way we stretch
the limbs of that life-tree
a million traces through time.

I walk back to my friends,
to our tents nestled
among the yellow birch
and wonder

how long will this branch hold?


Down in the vault
of sun-splattered rock,
low swells drum deep
slap and suckle
calling us back
to the waters
of birth.

In bright-colored kayaks
we play in her chambers
slice shadows
in mirrored hollows
where colors dissolve.

Within the cave
is an arch of hope,
a womb we enter reverently.
The ceilings reverberate
with an ancient lore
almost legible
in the scoured cleaving
of stone.

We search for clues
to our passage
in tiny rooms, where
pink-muscled pillars lift
the whisper of primitive shapes
designs, in blood hues.

Between the caves
is a dark tunnel
the tricks
of transformation.

We crawl our kayaks
between the low gritty roof
and the breath-held
booming water, slough off
one skin of fear
to birth ourselves out
into the white hope

of an opening.

We linger there in cool shadows
on edges
of color
on black and lime-lit water
soft red stone, luminescent
moss-grown ceilings

And always, we are held
within the restless slap and suckle

the deep

resonant bass,

the booming



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