A Walk in the Meadow

I’ve done quite a lot of walking this year, partly due to Covid and partly to seek the beauty that surrounds me every day. Many times those walks have led me to the woods. There’s just something so appealing about walking through towering trees and realizing the history that must have been occurring when they were just saplings. But also I’ve found meadows can be just as appealing in a very different way.

Like this pollinator meadow at Caesar Creek State Park. This view made me stop in my tracks to admire it’s magnificent color. Quiet. Calm. Peaceful. The bees loved it. And so did I.

Not too long ago I visited Wolf Run Regional Park which is just east of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. It’s on about 288 acres with 10 miles of trail that lead through woodland, open field and meadow – quite a nice combination. The sun was shining the day I visited though most of summer’s wildflowers were winding down.

Big blue stem and Indian grass were scattered about the area, but my eye was caught more often by the handful of wildflowers that were still blooming, like Gray-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata). They were still hanging in there producing just a few more blooms. It’s the end of the season, but it’s encouraging to know these are perennials and they will be blooming here again next year.

But not to worry, some birds (like this sparrow) enjoy those Gray-headed Coneflower seeds immensely. The birds are probably very pleased these flower heads have dried.

Many times I don’t know the name of something I find fascinating. But that’s okay too because I find when I’m just strictly focused on naming something I may not really SEE the beauty before me. Here’s an example. I’m not sure what this flowering plant is, but take a good look at the close up photo. See the water droplets on it sparkling like little pearls? Isn’t that stunning?

And here’s a little treasure I nearly walked on. A small wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), blooming in the grass near the edge of the trail. A gift of nature waiting to be seen and admired.

Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy the many types of asters, milkweed and goldenrod. Did you realize there are more than 20 species of goldenrod in Ohio? I feel guilty in admitting I didn’t have a clue until now. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has a fantastic field guide, Goldenrods of Northeast Ohio, that does an exceptional job of identification and includes a dichotomous key to assist (https://www.cmnh.org/goldenrods).

Here’s another member of the aster family that is one of my favorites, Ironweed (Veronia). It can be about 6 foot tall or more and has the most brilliant purple flowers. You’ll see it in many fields this time of year. It’s a wonderful source of nectar for butterflies and bees.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a walk in the meadow with me. Exploring a meadow in the early morning when the temperature is crisp, there’s few people about and there’s glistening dew sparkling on the flowers – you just can’t beat that. I hope you find time to explore a meadow soon.

Until next time, keep exploring nature up close.

Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve

In a small rural area near Bremen in southeastern Ohio, tucked away into the rolling curvy roads, you will find Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve. It’s located on about 600 acres and features a small pond within a mile of the trail head and seven miles of magnificent hiking trails through wooded areas, ridges and riparian corridors. And if you visit on a weekday, you will most likely find next to no one there.

I was amazed by the large number of Poplar trees there, along with Red and White Oaks. Big, beautiful, massive trees that have undoubtedly seen a lot of history over their lifetimes. Impressive in stature.

The trails are fairly narrow once you get through the initial mowed path leading to the pond, but it’s well well defined and easy to follow. The trails hug the hillsides and encourage you to venture further into the preserve.

I feel remiss for not including a photo of the pond, but when we were there a young couple were enjoying a swim and had sufficed with underwear as swimming garments. Not a good thing to take a photo in this situation.

The topography was interesting, making me wish I knew more about geology that I do, so the best thing I can offer is a photo. This rock formation reminded me of the helm of a big ship. Appropriate given its size. It’s even larger than it looks in this photo.

There was quite a variety of fungi on the forest floor. I find these creations of nature so wonderful. I mean how can you look at these things and not be amazed by them? How do they form? Why are they the colors they are? Why are they in such different shapes? How do the delicate gills form beneath? All are mysteries to me.


Okay…enough of the fungi.

Let me share with you something very special we came upon around one bend of the trail…a small little cemetery dating back to the 1800s. Forgotten. Neglected. Distant relatives undoubtedly long gone.

The tombstones were very difficult (and in some cases impossible) to read, although one appeared to be a young son who died April 1, 1815 at the age of 5 months. Two other readable death dates on a couple of the stones were 1836 and 1840. It was sad to see. It made me wonder what their life stories were and how they came to be in this part of Ohio. Ohio became a state in 1803 but it was still a very young state at that point. I did some Google searching but could find nothing further about this cemetery.

I’ll leave you with one last look at the beautiful trail through Boch Hollow nature preserve. If you find yourself looking for a great hike, I can recommend this one. Very few visitors during the week and a great place to explore nature.

Until next time, keep exploring nature up close.