I haven’t walked through the wetlands since late July because it has been undergoing some necessary periodic maintenance to water lines and pedestrian paths. While I preferred this preserve in its wild state, there were portions that had become nearly impassable to visitors, which include biology students from the school that created this preserve from donated land.
When I moved to this neighborhood three years ago, I actually felt a tiny bit uneasy about living so close to something wild. This surprised me given my affinity for the local parks that offer acres of access to forest and prairies. The difference is in timing I suppose. I seldom wander through those parks when wildlife other than birds are apt to show themselves.
The first week I lived here, I had a short dream that I had a drone’s eye view of the wetlands, and I spotted a bear rear up on its hind legs and sniff the air. I quickly woke myself up and considered the odds that such a vision could actually become a reality in this part of Ohio. I drifted back to sleep content with its slim possibility.
This brings me to a tangent. Last summer I had the privilege of reading a century-old account that one of my ancestors wrote about the pioneer era of the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. It was a school report written by one of my third cousins, who related how her mother had seen bears picking berries whilst standing on their hind legs. One of my second great grandfathers was a game warden and pioneer to that region of Michigan. Back in that time, that area must have been far wilder than anything my dreaming mind could produce now.
I did spot a young coyote trotting down our street at dusk a couple years ago. That is wild enough for me.
Back to the present, I was delighted to see that the reed (Phragmites) are in bloom. Their brown/burgundy plumes signal that summer is at its peak.
I capped a busy Monday with a quick walk through my neighborhood wetlands. These shots were taken within an hour of sunset, and the long light reigned as I walked past thousands of tall thistle that have begun their subtle blooming.
The neighborhood wetlands are thriving in the wake of recent heavy rain. Gray-headed coneflower and its drooping petals are dominating that landscape. There were thousands of them in bloom as I walked through the wetlands this morning:
I also spotted chicory, which blooms in abundance around here, both in drought and heavy rain:
Every year when I first see chicory, I remember the summer of 1988, when so little rain fell that I worried it might be the only plant to survive. That was the summer my dad began working as a church groundskeeper, but the drought gave him no reprieve from mowing. The chicory was so abundant it could be mowed.
So far the summer has established a pattern of cloudy weekdays with sunny weekend mornings. I could use more sunshine during the week, but I hope the Saturday and Sunday light persists.
Today is a vacation day for me, so I was able to squeeze in a quick morning photo walk around the wetlands that border my backyard. The wetlands are now lush with birds, wildflowers, and tall grasses. This is one of those places I cherish most, a touch of the wild so close to home. As walked around the path within it, I thought of a portion of Oberon’s speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.235-239):
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk roses and with eglantine.
There were wild roses in bloom today, but they resisted capture through my lens. They were tucked into the deeper parts of the wetlands. Black-eyed susans are now in bloom, a sure sign that summer is conquering this area.
I took a brief walk through the wetland preserve that borders my backyard this morning. The light was good, but the wetlands haven’t really taken off yet this year. Maybe it is too busy doing what it does best, sopping up excess rainfall. I could hear water rushing through its ditches as it continued working through yesterday’s heavy rain. There were plenty of red winged blackbirds chirping around me, but they all flew away the moment I pointed my camera lens toward them.
I spotted fleabane and daisies today. The thistle continue their slow march skyward, but they will not bloom until the height of summer.
I’m not sure what this is, but I have a feeling it seeded from someone’s yard that borders the wetlands. It looks too tame to belong.