By Greg Lecker
I arrive at Spring Peeper Meadow just before sunset. The heavy, warm day has transferred its heat to the abundant foliage. Now, the land gives back this energy in softness, moisture and fragrance. The mown turf paths are springy with thick grass. Just slightly damp; though not yet dewy.
Turkey foot (Big Blue Stem) towers over everything. Through the netting of three-toed flower heads and plant stems, I see a variety of sky glories – to the west bright setting sun…..to the north, building clouds.
Even more thickly than do its pale pink flowers and blue-gray green foliage surround, the scent of Wild Bergamot (Bee Balm) astounds. Imagine Earl Grey Tea fused with oregano.
Bright yellow petals of Gray Headed Coneflower droop – mirroring my body’s own flagging in the day’s humidity.
Another yellow plant, Cup Plant, is now in full bloom. Flower stalks stretch upwards above the diagonal cups formed by leaves that clasp flower stems. Water collected from Thursday evening’s downpour remains two days later – shaded from evaporation by the large rough leaves. In the hot, dry habitats where these plants grow, this life-giving moisture must be welcomed by its inhabitants.
Along the trail, I side-step a bit of canine scat. Not just because dogs are prohibited, but because of its unusual, wild, unprocessed contents, I diagnose the scat as from a coyote. Camping overnight during the recent blue moon, I was serenaded by the distant sounds of coyotes. Though the campgrounds were shared by many dogs accompanying their human alpha leaders, man’s best friends were not the source of the distant yelping.
I do not hear, nor do I see birds. A number of bumblebees hover around wild bergamot, escaping my camera’s capture. Nature is slowing for the evening; settling in for the night. Insect repellent applied in the early morning has worn off. Mosquitos are lightly testing me – they usher me along the paths, hurrying me along on my way to my next appointment.
While I often enjoy the quiet solace of Spring Peeper Meadow, I do encourage visitors to expand their perception of the Arboretum from mere flower gardens to nature refuge.
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.