Cynthia Menard

I am a professional naturalist with a master's degree in Conservation Biology. I'm passionate about teaching people of all ages about the natural world, and run independent environmental education programs through my business Withywindle Nature Programs. I also own and run Withywindle Books, an online, independent bookstore specializing in new, used and rare books on nature, the environment, fantasy and science fiction. My writing  - usually on nature/environmental issues, but also on family and self-sufficient living along with updates from my bookstore  - can be found at the Withywindle Blog.

Feedback Wanted on Self-Publishing!

 I just started a new project that I hope to have completed by the end of the winter – I am self-publishing an animal tracking book, which will serve as a guide to beginners who want to get outdoors and learn how to track....more

Back from Bereavement Leave

Since I work as a small business owner and independent contractor, I don't actually get bereavement leave. So that's something of a joke. Gallows humor, I suppose.  ...more

Buy Nothing Day and Giving Tuesday

If you read my post last week about how important it is to be thoughtful about what you purchase, then you might be able to imagine how unbelievably ill the holiday season of over-consumption makes me. Particularly the insanity around Black Friday....more

Moving Forward Politically on Wildlife and Conservation Issues

I’m on the Center for Biodiversity’s mailing list, and received a terrific email from their Executive Director, Kieran Suckling yesterday. He talked about what needs to happen for us to move forward on critical issues facing wildlife now that the political dust is starting to settle....more

My Inked Life: An Update (Or, Part 2 of 'On Tattooing')

A few months ago, I wrote a post on Blogher called 'On Tattooing', which was my first exploration into how I got started on my current tattoo project. Eleven months into this I’m pleased that I can look back and see the progress of my full-back tattoo through the brief bit of journaling and photography that I’ve done (well, clearly other people did the photography, but you know what I mean)....more

Climate Change Rant

I was running an errand the other evening, when a song came up on the radio that I hadn't heard  in quite a while. It's 'Ship of Fools' by the band World Party, and  I never really paid much attention to the lyrics and their meaning before now, although I've always liked it....more
Your word, "disconnect", is right on. It probably comes even before "denial".  It's just very, ...more

Coyote as a Totem Animal

I’ve been drawn to coyotes for over 15 years, when I started learning about them through personal research and discovered how intelligent, adaptable and beautiful they are. I’ve always been a dog person, which probably adds to my inclination towards wolves and coyotes. But I also feel like there’s something deeper – more personal – in my fascination with coyotes....more

Self-Milking Cows and Other Curiosities of the Modern Dairy Farm

Smart cow?  Photo by Withywindle Nature, 2012...more

Teaching My Son While Facing My Fears

I earned my stripes as a Master Naturalist the other day. It might only be in the minds of my husband and I, but I definitely grew considerably, both professionally and personally.My family and I are at my father's cabin in the Catskills for a week of vacation. We arrived a few days ago in the later evening, and were occupied with putting the kids to bed and then passing out ourselves, so exploring had to wait until the following morning.After breakfast was finished and cleaned up, I heard “Wow”, from my husband out on the screen porch....more