I’m finding after months of hearing way too much news about Covid that I’m a bit on edge and desperately searching for avenues of normalcy. But, as always, I make sure I have a mask in my pocket when I walk out the door of the house with camera in hand.
In an effort to explore further afield, I’ve been trying to include a weekly “day trip” to different nature preserves. It feels a bit like a mini-vacation and provides the fun of exploring new areas while staying away from news headlines. That’s a win-win in my book.
There’s a terrific 200-acre old-growth forest in north eastern Ohio in Wayne County called Johnson Woods Nature Preserve. Some trees are said to be 400 years old. Signage states “Johnson Woods appears to be the largest and best old-growth woods found in Ohio.” And I would agree with them. My photos do not do it justice.
Upon entering the forest and walking on the 1 1/2 mile boardwalk trail, we were greeted by newly fledged Eastern Wood-Pewees being fed by a parent. Cute little guys that couldn’t quite fly straight nor land on a branch without wobbling a bit. But they’ll learn.
Eastern Gray Squirrels were plentiful, including black ones. I always thought the black ones were a separate breed, but found otherwise. Smithsonian says they’re a result of interbreeding between gray and fox squirrels which results in a faulty gene giving them their black color. According to Wikipedia, this occurs in less than 1% of gray squirrels. Some say the black squirrels are more aggressive and territorial.
The boardwalk is quite an accomplishment all by itself. The woods looks like it could be quite wet in the spring, so this would be the only way visit and maintain dry feet. More than 60 species of wildflowers have been documented here in the spring. Cardinal flowers were blooming quite well this past week and close enough to the boardwalk to get a picture.
While you’re in this area, it’s well worth a trip to Barnes Preserve as well. It’s a nature park that is very close by. While it also offers walks through a woods, it’s the flowering meadows, vernal pool and pond that attract the eye here. And very few visitors. Makes one feel like it’s your own private nature preserve!
Follow the trail through the meadow and down a wood-chip path to this glorious little pond. A wonderful place to contemplate the world – or just watch nature around you and absorb the peaceful setting. Like the mother mallard duck with her 8 nearly-full-grown babies following her every move through the pond. Or watch the Azure Bluet damselfly or Widow Skimmer dragonfly flit about the pond and grasses.
The wildflower meadow there is spectacular. Blue vervain was growing in magnificent patches, along with milkweed which was attracting many butterflies like this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
Also in the meadow was what I think is a Rosepink. It’s a beautiful flower that has the most magnificent color. It’s a biennial which flowers in its second year and grows up to three foot tall. It’s common to the eastern United States, but it’s a new one for me. Looks like Mother Nature got out her water color paints to do this one.
Tucked into a corner of the woods was a little wetland pond that had been built as a class science project. It was shallow enough to attract quite a number of frogs as well as the most beautiful red Meadowhawk dragonfly. I thought perhaps it was a Ruby Meadowhawk (a new one for me), but I later learned that this dragonfly is very difficult to identify unless you have it in hand, and even then it’s not a sure thing. Oh well, a girl can dream…
I hope you’ve enjoyed the travels through these preserves. There’s so many wonderful things in nature to observe and explore. And it may be even closer than you think.
I can highly recommend a day trip to a preserve to give you a new perspective and appreciation of nature. It’s a great way to let go of problems and worries and ground oneself to what really matters. Nature doesn’t seem to be one bit bothered by Covid. Stay safe.
Until next time, keep exploring nature up close.
3 thoughts on “Nature at our Doorstep”
You’re very lucky to have such a beautiful place nearby and you’re also lucky to have found the beautiful rose pink. It’s a flower I’ve never seen. Happy hunting!
Thank you! I so enjoy your blogs. Makes me feel like I’m in the hike with you. And I learn a lot. Love hearing the influence your grandmother had on you.
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My grandmother had a lot to do with my love of plants!