Nature and Beauty are Bread for the Soul

Nature Beauty Bread“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir

Photo taken a few days ago in Castlewood State Park in Ballwin, Missouri.  Get out and enjoy Autumn before the wind and cold sweep away all the color!

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Creeping into Autumn

Virginia Creeper Turning

I took this picture a couple weeks ago as the local Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) population began changing into its vibrant red garb.  Thank you, Nature!!!

Virginia Creeper often gets mistaken for Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), but is 5-leaved, whereas the Poison Ivy is 3-leaved.  Both are native to this area, but I’d highly recommend Virginia Creeper for your garden or natural landscaping.

Just make sure not to landscape with Poison Ivy, unless you’re itching to repel your neighbors…  Ha!

Hitched to Nature, Hitched to the Universe

Hitched to Muir's Ideals

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

~John Muir

One of my favorite quotes…it not only inspires my continued appreciation for the natural world, but it also clarifies my thoughts on Sustainability.

*I took this photo at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, MO this Spring.

Bluebell Blooms Bring Back Spring

When I see Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), I know that, despite the calendar date, Spring has truly arrived!

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Delicate new blooms

Ephemeral spring beauty

Look down. Don’t miss it!

Fire: Prescription for Life

Hawn State Park

Hawn State Park

Fires, floods, fallen trees,

All appears lost, all looks dead,

Yet life rekindles!

 

I took a 4-mile hike yesterday with some friends along Pickle Creek in Hawn State Park, near Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.  Spring is finally springing, though I’ve yet to see many spring ephemerals popping up yet.  Can’t wait for the bluebells (see previous post)!!

Along part of the hiking path, we saw the charred ground and trees of a recent fire.  A prescribed fire, in this neck of the woods, is not destructive; occasional fires and floods are ecologically healthy for these ecosystems.  Fire helps keep the highlands from accumulating too much detritus and understory flora (and adding fuel for more-difficult-to-control wildfires).  Occasional prescribed burns affect insect populations, provide additional habitat, accommodate the perpetuation of more native plants and trees, and help curb the spread of weedy or invasive plants.

Of course, always be prepared and safe when conducting prescribed burns!!

Winter Hiking: A Great Idea!

Just after Christmas, I took some friends on a day hike south of St. Louis, Missouri.  Winter hikes are the best…no ticks or mosquitoes!  And the weather this day was particularly pleasant.

We visited HickIce Globeory Canyons Natural Area, in Ste Genevieve County, which features box canyons and sandstone cliffs.  During the right winter conditions, icicles form throughout the canyons.  I call the sight ‘God’s Pipe Organ.’  At any rate, we visited on a day above freezing.  In the silence and solitude of sandstone, ferns, lichen, and moss, an icy stalactite would occasionally crash down into the valley below.

One icicle must have impaled the soft ground, melted, and refroze.  The result was an ice globe.

Don’t give up on the outdoors when the leaves on the trees have fallen and the flowers aren’t in bloom (Actually…Witch Hazel).  Nature gives you entertainment and enchantment year-round!

More photos on my Flickr.

Finch Food

Summer Setting by mostendorf1
Summer Setting, a photo by mostendorf1 on Flickr.

Took this a couple weeks ago at Shaw Nature Reserve. This is Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), a native prairie flower that is popular in area landscaping.  This is one of those flowers that traditional landscapers/gardeners are really beginning to embrace.  That’s good! because as Coneflower ripens, it provides food for birds and maintains interest throughout the fall.

Read more from Missouri’s Grow Native organization on native landscaping: http://grownative.org/landscape-guide/easy-landscape-plans/