Outdoor Encounters

By Nathan Bolls on April 6, 2017

We are in The Great Unfolding of Spring, a most appropriate time for learning to have Nature come to us rather than always believing we have to go to Nature. Our Natural Area can show us many of these “unfoldings.” Just pick a nature-filled place and sit quietly, look carefully, and listen intently—as if you were studying pores in a brick instead of the whole wall.
Many species of native prairie wildflowers bloom in our MLH prairie, the center-piece of Leon’s Birding Glen. Both number and variety have been enhanced by the work of Sue Hunt and her crew. Although the blooming sequence is subject to the vagaries of each particular growing season, this sampling from Sue’s long planting lists suggests what we might expect: April-May: Missouri evening primrose, golden Alexanders, and rose verbena—May-June: western yarrow and showy beardtongue—June-July: Ohio spiderwort and butterfly, common, and smooth milkweeds—July-August: prairie petunia, Black-eyed Susan, compass plant, blue sage, bur marigold, mint-leaf beebalm, prairie coneflower, and willow leaf sunflower—August-September: white sage and Drummond’s aster—September-October: button gayfeather, and smooth and aromatic asters.
Take time to notice, often on the same branch or flowering head, the different stages of unfolding of blossoms, leaves and thighs from the tiniest of nubbins. Don’t miss when the rough-leaf dogwood shrubs along the asphalt trail near the pond put on their beautiful show. Marvel at what it really means when watching hummingbirds or insects sucking nectar from some blossom.
Appreciate that all around you bird chicks, insects, and tadpoles have (or soon will be) unfolding from crowded eggs, that those cute little bunnies or baby squirrels recently unfolded from their mother’s crowded uterus. If lucky, you might watch a butterfly, moth, or mayfly unfold and stiffen its wings late in its emergence process. Think of the story that piece of eggshell could tell!
Hope that in your stillness a robin, grackle, mourning dove, or bluebird may stop close enough for you to really look it in the eye. If so, did you see that fire of life, that air of purpose—a bit of yourself?
Get a real taste of spring. Indulge yourself in a patient seance on one of the area benches or on a very slow and stealthy walk along one of the trails.