In the style of Leopold-
An adventure for the eyes- prancing through one of the many forest preserves in Illinois is truly an adventure for the eyes. Fallen trees happily become the homes for mushrooms. A cluster has claimed an old trunk, no timber in sight anymore. A family of worms has arisen from their dirt homes to smell the petrichor. Suddenly, another downpour strikes the earth. The worms begin stretching, inspired by the newly forming puddles. Walking this path brings back intense feelings of nostalgia. Following the lagoon, my gaze falls upon a Black-Capped Chickadee. These plump birds are never scared off by the harsh winter. I wonder what gives these birds such bravery in opposition to their friends who flee the cold immediately. A familiar trail differs from its usual appearance; the sturdy Swamp White Oak tree that guards a peaceful bed of grass has fallen. A twinge of sadness comes over me. I quickly remind myself that the process of death is natural, and I mustn’t dwell on it. From a distance, it seems as though fallen leafs have engulfed the once serene bed of grass. As I near, it becomes clear that the lime green grass and shrubs have persisted through the dead leafs. It is on some, but not many, of these warm and rainy autumn days that one can see the last efforts of summer attempting to hold its ground. I carry on my stroll. Trudging up a familiar hill, I see the figure of an old swing. Simplistically made, the swing is comprised of a rope and plank of wood. When I call to mind my first time swinging here, I remember fear. Now, with no trepidation, I leap on the swing and trust in its power to glide me through the rainy, refreshing air.
In the style of Holland-
The ecology and phrenology of Red Stone Forest (RSF) located in Western Vermont differs from the Forest Preserve of Cook County (FPCC) located in Northern Illinois greatly. Ecologically, the differing species accounts for a major difference. Eastern White Pine, Northern White Cedar, and Red Maple are spread among the Red Stone Forest. On the contrary, Red Mulberry, Cottonwood, and White Oak were most prominent during my exploration of the FPCC. A Pickerel frog [Lithobates palustris] jumped out of a lagoon adjacent to me. Never have I come across this species on a walk in Vermont; these frogs do not dwell in Vermont. The pickerel frog is a medium sized gray or tan frog marked with shifting rectangular dark brown spots down their back. They display sexual dimorphism– meaning that the female and male frogs exhibit dissimilar characteristics beyond the differences in their sexual organs. Both locations have a body of water that catches run off and rain water, preventing flooding. The FPCC covers 894 acres, opposed to the RSF which covers less than 20 acres. In addition, the FPCC has a higher percentage of plant life due a lack of snow and low temperatures in comparison to RSF. Furthermore, Illinois is 60% prairie. That being said, the FPCC has a strong population of prairie grass.
I have come to know the wildlife better at the phrenology location in Vermont, due to my weekly visits. But, I have spent an unknowable amount of time at the FPCC. I still feel a deep connection to the forest preserve in Illinois because of the beauty and energy it holds. Though, RSF is slowly paralleling the relationship I have to FPCC.
google map: 42°07’40.9″N 87°46’31.4″W