Karen Zimmermann holds her new book, “Nightwalk,” which promotes a greater understanding and appreciation of the five senses. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

‘Nightwalk’ celebrates the senses

As a graphic designer and illustrator, Karen Zimmermann communicates visually, relying exclusively on the sense of sight to inform, delight or motivate.

But in a new book, she also celebrates the senses of hearing, touch, taste and smell and offers activities that can help sharpen them. It’s called “Nightwalk: Using All Your Senses To Explore the Natural World.”

The book, which she wrote and illustrated, grew out of a project she did last spring as a participant in the Maine Master Naturalist Program.

“One of the many requirements of the class is a capstone project, something you can use to help people learn about a component of the natural world,” Zimmerman said. “My project was creating a field kit and lesson plan that can be used to lead a class for children or adults to help them explore their senses other than vision, to maybe experience nature in a different way.”

The field kit includes the materials needed for several activities. For example, there are small spice jars filled with different items, and the challenge is to identify the items by their smells. Another activity involves a dozen or so small jars filled with various materials, such as twigs or dried beans. The challenge is to shake the jars and, based on the sounds they make, decide which ones contain the same material.

Zimmermann said teachers are welcome to borrow the field kit.

That kit and the subsequent book do include activities for better understanding and honing night vision. But overall, the sense of sight is not emphasized. The reason, Zimmermann said, is that “we’re so overwhelmed by the visual that we often don’t pay much attention to the other senses.”

The book explains why some animals, such as raccoons and flying squirrels, have such a keen sense of touch and others, such as red foxes and black bears, rely on a highly developed sense of smell. She notes, for example, that bears can smell a meal up to 18 miles a way because, while its brain is only a third the size of a human’s, the part of its brain that’s devoted to smell is five times larger.

“Before the book gets to the activities, it takes a look at nocturnal animals like porcupines or bats and explains how they operate so well at night,” Zimmerman said.

“One of the reasons I wrote the book is to encourage people to not just think about exploring our beautiful resources during the day but to get out there are realize there are things about the nighttime that are pretty cool, too.”

Zimmermann owns Z Studio, a graphic design, advertising and web development firm in Bar Harbor.

Her “Nightwalk” book is available at Sherman’s Books in Bar Harbor and online at zzzinc.com/nightwalk.




Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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