Friday, April 23, 2010


No, it is not an expletive.  It's a term for the amount of LIFE that is being multiplied in the prairie, pond and woods here at Prairie Pond Woods!  After taking a walk on the Refresher Course this afternoon, I was struck by the increase of certain plants, and the number of native trees and wildflowers that actually survived the winter after being transplanted last fall. 

Most of the time, as you may have gathered from previous rants, I bemoan the fecundity of invasive species I do battle with every season. But today I was joyful and grateful...and didn't give much attention at all to the crown vetch and honeysuckle popping up and winding over things.  No, today I noticed with childlike glee a new patch of Bellwort in the woods, and how far several colonies of Mayapples are spreading. Also this year I counted 12 Jack-in-the-pulpits along the spring creek, about 4 times as many as the first year I went looking.  

One of the questions people often ask me when they come for a retreat is, "What are all those little orange flags?"  Because I can never remember what I plant from year to year, I have to mark them. 
As I strolled along the creek bed, which is mostly dry due to the lack of spring rains, I saw both transplanted flagged Bluebells and Jacob's ladder blooming away!  The flags I thought might be Redbud trees I'd already decided to just pluck up and take back, but lo and behold, there they were!  Four out of seven made it...OK, so they were only about 8 inches tall and had most of their tops chewed off by browsing deer, but they actually leafed out!  Fecundity!

Now the pond has its own story.  Four years ago, on tax day, when we took possession of the place, the pond had only one live species in it...a whirling beetle...and thousands of them!  No plants, so amphibians, no ducks or geese would even make a stopover. Because of the shale and limestone bedrock, our poor pond was quite acidic...a pH of 3.8.  Then in November we dumped in a truck-load of lime and five months later things started happening!  That spring, I saw heron tracks.  Next, toad eggs.  One interesting April, an orgy of leopard frogs at the far end.  We eventually named it the Lazarus pond for obvious reasons. 

Recently while standing by the edge looking for new shoots of aquatic plants, we saw something moving toward us, looking quite curious.  I grabbed my camera and kept taking shots as it crept closer and closer.  Finally we saw that it was a bulllfrog in metamorphosis between tadpole and adult.  Today, a male Wood Duck also walked at the pond's edge.  Then around dusk three of them flew over the house, sending their high-pitched calls into the sky.  Fecundity! 

Monday, April 19, 2010


I've decided (again) to practice a bit of what I preach and take a 3-week sabbatical at Prairie Pond Woods starting on Earth Day.  Spring is the season I love the used to be the Fall...but then I learned about all the LIFE that passes through overhead or comes back again after a long dormancy.  Once I started identifying and learning the names of migrating birds, wildflowers and other emerging creatures, as well as their specific habitats and behaviors, I was hooked.  Ignorance is definitely not bliss in nature.  Education only enhances the appreciation and understanding for what has been created as a gift to us all.  I plan to learn as many new things as possible while I'm there.

I have several other goals for this sabbatical (just how goal-oriented should one be during a sabbatical?).  One is to continue more diligently the breeding bird survey for my 10-square mile transect in Adams County.  Another is to post daily nature-journal entries on the brace yourselves for a lot of  notifications.  Another is to finish a short story submission for a writing contest due mid-May.  Plus, I plan to finish reading one 3D book (A Thousand Splendid Suns) and one CD book (The English Major). 

My last goal is less artsy-fartsy, less interesting and less right and exercise at least 5 times per week (not just my rambling-discovery-walk kind of exercise...but the kind where I'm pleading for oxygen).  "They" say that to develop a good habit, it takes 3 weeks of repetition.  I'm putting "their" theory to the test during this down time...when I have no other commitments, no distractions, no stress, no TV and no bad food in the house to go along with it.  Do I dare take and post a "before" and "after" picture?  We'll see. 

I'll be back,