A few weeks ago, I entered Bernheim Forest on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. As usual, my mind was occupied by many competing thoughts, some personal, others concerning broader issues. As I approached the kiosk at the gate, those concerns seemed to evaporate and my mood lightened. This is always the case – a visit to Bernheim always lowers my heart rate and lifts my spirits. On this particular day, I was met at the kiosk by one of Bernheim’s many wonderful employees, Benita, with a friendly smile and her greeting of “Welcome home”. Absolutely perfect. Bernheim is in so many ways my home. And yours.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. said, “Where we love is home — home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts”. Another poet, Maya Angelou, said, “The ache for our home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned”. There is so much comfort, peace, and happiness to be found in this beautiful place. With over 16,000 acres of forest, ponds, prairies, and sheer natural beauty to explore, I have made many hundreds of trips through that gate off of Kentucky Highway 245 and have never been disappointed. It is filled with so many familiar sites that I can visit and feel that welcoming sense of home. Its size and landscape diversity mean that there are always new spots to seek out, explore, learn from, and be amazed by. I have visited this special place by myself, with family, and with friends — and found new and treasured friends as well.
Whether you seek the serenity that can be found here or the joy of being with family and friends, it is always possible at Bernheim. Take advantage of this magnificent resource and visit often. Stroll on one of the great trails, relax at Lake Nevin, take part in one of our special events or one of the other activities led by Bernheim’s staff and volunteers, enjoy the Visitor Center and have a delicious meal in the gem that is Isaac’s Cafe. There is so much to do, or you can choose to do as little as possible and let the cares of your life depart during an essential respite from the outside world. Make Bernheim your resource, your sanctuary, your home.
By protecting this area, Bernheim is enhancing our lives and preserving our environment and our history. The great naturalist and environmentalist, John Muir, wrote, “Going to the woods is going home, for I suppose we came from the woods originally”. Bernheim helps to protect and preserve our future, a future that I hope always includes this home for generations yet to come.
In 1939, ten years after the establishment of the Bernheim Foundation, Isaac W. Bernheim wrote “To all I send the invitation to come from city, village, hamlet, and farm, to re-create their lives in the enjoyment of nature and the many blessings she gives with open hand to those with understanding, in the park which I have dedicated to the use of the people. . .” I hope you accept that invitation. And, “Welcome home”.
–Ken Johnson, Volunteer Naturalist