By Greg Lecker
Ice crystals on my windshield simulate the experience one might have looking up from below the surface of freezing water. The balance of season has shifted from autumn towards early winter. Highs dropped from record.50-60s to more seasonal 30s. On puddles and lakes, ice skims and even covers edges and even entire water bodies.
Walking towards Green Heron Pond, a large flock of apparently well-fed wild turkeys seems to know that Three Mile Drive is now closed to vehicles until the spring thaw. They slowly waddle to and fro along the edges of the roadway. Chickadees buzz and chirp; a Pileated Woodpecker cackles.Red squirrels chatter.
Within the week the ground has frozen as began to frozen fries and crunches under my feet. On the boardwalk the light frosty frozen flurries squeak under the rubber of my sneakers. Green Heron Pond, too, has begun to freeze. Believe me or not, but this morning floating faintly from the general direction of the High Point come the sounds of a flute-like instrument that evoke a Native American musical phrasing. I like to think that the music comes from a certain piece of art at the Harrison Sculpture Garden.
Two waterfalls flow over the little weir at the outlet of Iris Pond: one frozen and one liquid. Nothing much is happening in the Grace Dayton Wildflower garden – just the quietly flowing brook that feeds Iris Pond from the ravine above.
The Bennett Johnson Prairie is also frosty this morning. A goldfinch darts through seed heads. Then, a black-capped chickadee flies to a patch of seed heads and alights from one stem to the other. Knowing the ease with which a stem bows gives one an indication of slight weight of a chickadee. The stem not only supports the chickadee but barely deflects to the bird’s landing and take-off.
Inside the visitor center, besides the poinsettia tree, two art shows are worth noting. Just outside the cafe, Center of Gravity photographs capture cairns of stone constructed by the artist-photographer. Their balance defies belief. (So too, the bargain prices.) The Minnesota Master Exhibit features four artists in the Reedy Gallery. Both close at the end of the year. Don’t miss visiting the Arboretum this holiday season!
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.