By Greg Lecker
How is your daylight savings account doing? Not so well? The end of Daylight Savings Time is a good time to reflect on the amount of time one spent outdoors this spring, summer and autumn. Maybe it’s time to make a year-end deposit.
The price we pay for incredibly long summer days, and remarkable sunsets, is the oppressively short day length during the winter months. Just as one ought to sock away money in time of plenty, one must savor and relish days like today – sun, high temperatures of mid- to upper 50’s.
I walk around the largely barren trees in search of color. I skirt the corner of the Ordway Shelter and walk downhill towards Green Heron Pond. Right away, I find shiny red berries amidst shiny green leaves of a low shrub. I’m fairly certain that it is Winterberry – Minnesota Holly, Ilex Verticillata. Indeed, Winterberry is the only “holly” native to Minnesota – though it’s not related to the spiky, evergreen found in eastern and southern states.
Further on, I find a blooming goldenrod amidst the tawny undergrowth.
I stroll round Wurtele Boardwalk and see the occasional small bird darting among tree twigs. A small something-or-other scurried through the messy tangle of grassy leaves. Besides this movement however, I find little other animal life today. Even the number of human visitors seems low. I suspect that folks are taking further advantage of the clock reset to sleep in – as we all realize the darkening that is approaching. Rather than saving daylight, we’re banking sleep!
Fallen Tamarack needles crunch slightly underfoot on the asphalt path that returns me to the Sensory Garden parking lot. Entering Grace Dayton Wildflower Garden, I look around and lift my gaze upwards. Except for the stubborn red oak leaves, the canopy is a leafless tracery.
The carpet of woodland flowers has faded to a consistent paper-bag brown. Here and there, Zig-zag Goldenrod foliage stands out with its green leaves. The lobed foliage of Woodland Poppy remains green – in stark contrast to its seemingly fragile papery yellow petals. Further on, a bright bit of color sparkles. “Sweet”, I think. Sweet Black-eyed Susan, that is. Like Zig-zag Goldenrod, this is a woodland flower seemingly estranged from its prairie relatives.
Though the waxing moon has not yet risen, the sun is an hour higher in the sky than this time yesterday (by human construct, that is). Make sure you reset your human construct of time.
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.