Exploring dis-a-re- (Disarray)

By Greg Lecker

This hazy, sunny morning I’m walking around Green Heron Pond.  Last month’s study of duckweed and watermeal covering an adjacent smaller pond spurred me to think about the apparent disarray we find at first glance in nature.  I propose a compound word, “dis-a-re-”  to encompass complex themes ranging from dismissal, disturbance, and discoloration through discovery and recovery to rebirth, rejuvenation and reunion.  My first stop is a fallen tree and lush watery pool on the north side of Green Heron Pond between open water and the bog.

Fallen TreeFallen Tree

Between the flower gardens and tree collections there are natural landscapes that are left to evolve into habitats.  The fallen tree remains partially rooted; and so supports large shoots of green foliage on the formerly vertical trunk.  In the foreground, ostrich ferns border a mixed green ground cover.  In between, there is a carpet of floating duckweed, which grows in the dappled shade here.

I stop on the boardwalk to speak with frequent morning visitor, Jim who often, if not seen may be heard playing a flute-like instrument softly in the distance.  He suggests “to let the music lead you to the silence”.  As we’re speaking, a somewhat tropical sounding bird call catches our attention.  Jim finds it in the tree overhead; I miss it as I’m looking at a different tree.  I suggest a norther flicker as the call is not as full or as large as a pileated woodpecker.

Further along the boardwalk, a small water opening catches my attention, and painter’s eye.

Flow #1Flow #1

Where sky reflection does not obscure, one can just make out dead and decaying foliage underwater.  Caught in edges of greening grasses are scattered duckweed leaves.

Flow #2Flow #2

In the bottom half of my view (and my rendering), shadow allows one to see more easily into the water.  I observe the direction the duckweed seems to be floating and sensing the subtle waves – not quite ripples.  Whereas further north along the boardwalk, water is flowing to the east-northeast; here, water appears to be flowing in the opposite direction under the boardwalk.  The hydrology of the bog is a lot more complicated.  Walking in the cool shade along the pond’s southern edge, I return to the visitor center and study the waterfall.

Red Oak Leaf and ....Red Oak Leaf and ……

Growing on the rocks, I find what I first thought was simply moss or algae.  Doing some research, I find that, not only are there numerous types of algae; what I see attached to submerged rocks is most likely periphyton – a mixture of algae, cyanobacteria, microbes, and detritus.  The subject requires more study.

Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

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