By Greg Lecker
Flanking the Arboretum’s entry drive and parking lot bays, brush lying on the snowy ground tells me that the forestry staff here has been busy this week with their winter pruning chores. Stepping from my car, I fortunately grab my woolen face mask from the front seat and stuff this insurance of comfort into my coat pocket. After a few minutes of walking, it becomes apparent that the approaching forecasted snow storm will be preceded by wind. Whispering at first, and then growing in a steady crescendo, the zephyr weaves through pine boughs a tale of its travels over the great plains of Iowa and Nebraska. As gusts grow in the perennial garden behind the Snyder Building, mournful music sounds from the hollow bamboo chimes and seedpods of Wild Senna (Senna hebecarpa).
A male Northern Cardinals in a pine at the edge of the prairie simply chips his presence to an unseen mate. A more muted red crest swirls around a Sumac branch.
The sky is a dull gray watercolor wash where the more saturated pigment has collected near and around the distant trees. A dangling metal plant label tolls a dull chime against its post. As I near the familiar curve where the red barn can be glimpsed on the horizon, a crow chorus caws in echoing calls. This does little to lift the melancholy that one feels this morning. Invisible waves rolling over the open landscape rustle drooping Amur Maple seed heads turned noisemakers.
As I descend along the forest lined roadway that curves from the Birch Collection around Green Heron Pond and down towards the Iris Collection, a perky Black Capped Chickadee sings its persistent song. And if doesn’t cheer one a little, the pink hats, coats, shirts, skirts and scarves of the Romp to Stop Breast Cancer Snowshoe race remind one to look on the bright side of life. For instance, several days of traffic-slowing precipitation this week have produced a respectable amount of new gr0und cover for their snowy stroll.
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.