Wandering at the Solstice

By Boak Wiesner

It’s certainly been a week of transitions here in the Arb. I poked around Spring Peeper Meadow just before the solstice. Wow, the sun is low on the horizon! I’m tempted to yell to drive away the darkness of the season – which is where “Yule” comes from. The question is: does a Nature Notes writer alone, yelling in the forest make a sound?

DSC_0068On the way in, a movement caught my eye – ah, yes! – Despite the best efforts of the Arboretum staff, some of these vermin still manage to get in.

DSC_0004The colors of the marsh in late fall are of a subtle yet almost sublime quality. One need only to linger a moment or two to appreciate their muted essence. Gone are the glories of October and yet to come are the stark contrasts of early winter.


I’m lucky enough to come back less than a week later. The first real snow has finally fallen, here just after the Solstice, that eyeblink when the Earth’s tilt points us here in the Northern Hemisphere the greatest angle away from the sun. The snow lets me follow many animals’ treks around the Arb with their tracks. A mink hopped along the boardwalk, maybe after a squirrel.

Mink Tracks
Mink Tracks
Grey Squirrel Tracks
Grey Squirrel Tracks

Ah, the gleam of red that Dogwood provides the eye in the otherwise drab December landscape, Aldo Leopold’s “pink”. You know how you can tell it’s a Dogwood, right? (Wait for it…) By its bark! (I’ll be here all week, folks!)

Red Osier Dogwood
Redosier Dogwood

Boak Wiesner is a Minnesota Naturalist Volunteer


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