Posts Tagged ‘Little Red Schoolhouse Woods’

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”  e.e. cummings


We have enjoyed some amazing “blue dream” skies hereabouts as summer drifts into fall.

Autumn is a favorite time of year for me as warm days give way to cooler nights which bring about the vivid shades of reds and yellows and browns that dapple the many forests and the parkways of my existence. There are hints of Autumn splendor now, even as we mourn the wilting flowers that proclaim their weariness as they turn brown, set seed and die back.

While the woods transform, so do the prairies. They are a moveable feast for the birds and for the pollinators gathering from the plethora of seeds and the last of summer’s blooms. I love to watch the goldfinch, the chickadees and other feathered friends as they flit about gathering sustenance for their journeys on the long winter ahead.

These are, I believe, sawtooth sunflowers. They have brushed the prairie landscape in magnificent swathes of golden splendor and rise above their cousins to amazing heights, touching the sky and daring my beloved Antler Man to see how much taller they are than he is. These sunflowers rise more than 10 feet tall.

So, dear friends, off I go to see what I can see, in search of honey and treetops and all which I hope will remain infinite on this journey of life and for everything that is yes.





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DSCN7733Something white caught my eye.  There they were, a generous mass of springtime, clustered on the ground as we were leaving Brookfield Zoo on Wednesday; snowdrops – and not the cold, wet, flakey kind!

The trees are starting to bud. The grass is greening. My daffodils are inching forward and many are showing plump, yellow tips. Best of all, there is a full chorus of spring peepers down the road in the little pond.

A walk in the Little Red Schoolhouse Woods had this little miss swinging her coat like a kite and her shadow skipping along the path,

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and this young lad hugged his Papa for a long, long while and then he explored the nature center.

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Today we will color Easter eggs and perhaps watch trains go by, as our Ezra really loves trains, and we will have some quiet moments as we reflect upon the gift of Easter.

Peace and  blessings to each of you.

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PRONUNCIATION:   (bry-OL-uh-jee)

MEANING:  noun: The branch of botany that deals with mosses, liverworts, and hornworts.

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek bryo- (moss) + -logy (study). Earliest documented use: 1863.

USAGE: “The book’s protagonist … spends most of her life practicing bryology on her father’s estate.”Maggie Caldwell; Gather No Moss; Mother Jones (San Francisco); Sep/Oct 2013.


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I wanted to tell you about the long walk we took in the woods. I wanted to tell you how magnificent the prairie was, how the sun glistened on the water lilies, and how the path beckoned us to go further and further still. Instead, I’ll just show you. Okay?


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We waited quietly along the shore of the pond, then I saw it. Can you? You might have to click on the picture once or twice to see, but there it is. A frog. Silent and still in the shallow rim of the pond. Waiting. It was one of many Tom and I saw as we took a walk on a warm and sunny afternoon in the Little Red Schoolhouse Woods.

When Tom asked if I’d like a walk on one of the rare days it didn’t rain, I said yes. A gal working on getting her bounce back can always use a walk in a 100 acre woods, can she not?

The paths were muddy through the White Oak Trail, but the Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, and May apple were abundant on the forest floor and worth the trudge just to see them.

We swatted away at the filaments of spiders’ webs that seemed to be everywhere we walked, and a banded water snake slithered in front of Tom. Penelope Pitstop saw it, and didn’t panic, saving the Antler Man’s, or maybe the snake’s, life. A gals gotta do what a gals gotta do, I always say.

Ponds are always full of life and fascinate me. Even in winter, there is activity teeming just under the surface. Spring, ah,  springtime finds ponds full of drama, especially in this neck of the woods, and it was so on this walk about.

Several children were watching the schools of fish along the pond’s edge and folks out for a bit of sunshine and fresh air passed by. I noticed something in the center of a patch of lily pads. Still and camouflaged, it must have been standing there the whole tim. We never saw it swoop in. We watched as it perched upon a twig. It looked rather squat and small – until it’s neck slowly telescoped out and it quickly dipped into the murky water for a snack. Finally, this green heron swooped up and across the pond to a branch, sharing it with a turtle, which you can see to the right and down with a click or two on the picture.

We walked along the pond’s edge and wondered what else we could find.

Do click on the picture above. There are at least three frogs here. A regular Froggy Convention.

Isn’t it amazing what flourishes right under our noses?

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We took a walk in the Little Red Schoolhouse Woods on Saturday, enjoying the sunny day and the anticipation of spring that is in the air. As we walked, we noticed the swollen buds on the trees, the soft, furry tips of the pussywillow bushes. The prairie grasses were bent, bowing to the strong winds, and the water around the slough was glistening in the sun. While we couldn’t see them, we could hear the call of the Sandhill cranes, miles up, heading north for another season.

It was the first faint notes of a chorus that kept pulling us along the path, however. Tom remembered a spot from last year; a bench and a pond and a party of sorts. As we got closer, the sound intensified until we heard, for the first time this year, the spring peepers! 

Many of you asked what peepers were and I realized that they are a mystery to you. In fact, they were a bit of a mystery to me until just a few years ago when I came upon them performing nature’s symphony at the Morton Arboretum

. Peepers make one think of eyes and optics and vision, or something more sundry like a shady character who looks into women’s windows at night.

Spring peepers, Psuedacris crucifer to be more precise, are tiny frogs that inhabit swampy woodlands. In early spring, when the ice  has melted and the water and air begins to warm, the peepers debut. At only about 1.5 inches (38mm), they are difficult to see, but their singing can be heard from some distance and is often quite boisterous.

We sat on a bench for a spell, taking in the warmth and the wonder of nature, enjoying the spell of the musical moment.

Won’t you sit for a moment and listen as well?

Click here. Then click the listen button.

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Blogospheric apiaries

I seem to be flitting about lately, like this ravenous swallowtail.

The days are shortening, faster than I would like. At the same time,  I find I am looking forward to Autumn. We’ve had a delightful spell of cooler temperatures, but, the heat and humidity are back. It won’t be long, though, before the rakes are employed in the gathering of leaves and someone will mutter  about  frost on the pumpkins.

A walk on Sunday in The Little Red Schoolhouse Woods seemed like just the thing to do. It had been quite a while since we strolled the White Oak Trail. It felt as if we were the only ones there. We weren’t, of course. Most of the woodland wanderers were off in the new nature center or on the bigger paths that surround the slough.

In a few weeks, the White Oak Trail will be covered in leaves. On this day, the trail had but a few signs of the fall weather ahead. It was quiet and green with a few red berries peaking through and felt as if this mile of forest was just sitting and waiting for the colorful gala ahead.

On the other trails, which we later wandered, were masses of children filled with all of the wonder of youth, looking for fish and turtles and frogs swimming about among the lily pads. Can you see the frog sunning here?  This pond is on one side of the trail and an apiary on the other.

We’ve watched the apiary for a few years now. The pear trees are finally bearing fruit and the bee hives fascinate me. As we read about beekeeping and how bees sometimes form their own hives in trees when the apiary boxes become full, what looked like a bunch of dried leaves slowly came alive. I wish that my camera could have gotten a closer look for me. I hope you can see on the tree what looks like a pile of leaves or a log. It  is really a massive beehive, swarming with busy workers.

Here on the Cutoff, we reside in a carved out delta of trees and wildlife that we were fortunate enough to find. A very urban area is just down the  road a ways, around the bend, with a magnificent glimpse of the far off Chicago skyline. The forests to be found are just a few turns the other way. Both seem like gifts to me.

The active hives of the apiary mean more to me than the honey they produce. They are a symbol of sorts of the lofty idea that such opposing ways of life can coexist. These sloughs and forests, carved out in a long-ago time by ice, remain places of refuge for migratory  birds and butterflies in their seasonal journeys. They rest and get nourishment just moments away from highways and byways and one of my country’s largest cities, while minutes away I reside, a simple woman who sits and taps away on keys in a dot on the speck of a spot on our earth while you sit at your computer, in an office, or library, or from a laptop in a coffeehouse, a few miles away or in another hemisphere, and we somehow connect, forming our own blogospheric apiary.

We all make pretty sweet honey, don’t you agree?

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