Nature Notes

Grateful for the Pause

Every walk at the Arboretum is like taking a stroll through a painting!  The “Adirondack” Crabapple on the way out invites me to sit on one of the benches and daydream a little while before I need to move again so my hands can stay toasty warm!

By Lee Anne Laskey

There is nothing like early morning at the Arboretum! There is a sense of waking with the wonders all around you. To me it is the perfect balance with craving the cozy, indoor hygge moments at home this time of year. In this month of intentional gratitude, I am finding an abundance of it woven into the gardens, paths, plants and trees. The sun is peaking out as I first visit the Spiegel Entrance Garden, that feels like an old friend. What a warm welcome with the snowman décor smiling down at me. I had the honor of meeting Judy Spiegel and admiring her art in the library in the past. I’m so grateful for all those kind people who have dedicated these gardens for all of us to enjoy. I’ve made it a goal to learn the stories behind all my favorite spaces. So far so good!

Spiegel Entrance Garden snowman greeter

What a surprise bonus to get to listen to the soothing seasonal music piped in along the path in the back gardens.  November is a time to further tune in to nature’s more subtle gifts and the music is the perfect backdrop to do just that. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have to look even harder for those surprises in the winter, but my pace then slows even more, so I can savor the quiet beauty. I am greeted by a glowing Tamarack tree. Its name actually makes me think of my sister Deb, who just happens to be flying here for a visit someday soon! This tree just got added to my mental note of favorites here. The tamarack or larch tree is one of the last to turn color in the fall and is always such a treat to see. Have you started your list yet? I’ll probably add it to my nature journal soon.  I started that mental list awhile back, inspired by constantly learning new varieties on the guided walks with Matt Schuth or Alan Branhagen. I’m grateful for those memories here and getting to know the others who gathered for those valuable experiences.  

“Deborah Waxman” Tamarack tree stealing the show

I’m like a kid again seeing the winter lights, even in the morning, tucked away everywhere for the not to be missed evening tradition!  We can’t wait! The Crimson Spire Hybrid Oak ahead makes me pause with its delicate color contrast in the landscape. Every walk at the Arboretum is like taking a stroll through a painting!  The “Adirondack” Crabapple on the way out invites me to sit on one of the benches and daydream a little while before I need to move again so my hands can stay toasty warm! This might be a day I treat myself to hot chocolate in the cafe and all there is to offer inside too.

Benches by the “Adirondack” Crabapple tree

I feel instant peace with the sunlit cloud show over Green Heron Pond and I tuck away the holiday lists in my head for now. I so enjoy all the hustle and bustle, but we all need outdoor breaks to breathe don’t we. Take time for one here this week to rejuvenate during these fun and busy weeks ahead. You won’t regret it!  This view immediately brings back memories of Thursday night free music events in the warmer seasons, picnics under the shelter and the valuable time spent walking these pond paths in rain or shine, observing and always learning.

Clouds over Green Heron Pond

A path by the Sensory Garden leads up the hill and begs to be explored with the bare branch silhouettes and blanket of crisp leaves. All I can hear is the the blustery wind whipping through the scene as I’m continuing to wake up with the landscape and critters around me. There is something about outdoor time, especially here, that just centers my day, no matter how long I have. Being a member here makes it easy to come often too for just that and I realize I’m not the only dedicated member who feels this way. I run right into the familiar faces of friends filling up too. We pause for a while to laugh, catch up and share some stories. These paths are meant for that.  I’m so glad I took the time to come this morning! Like I always say, the people as much as the plants here are all growing together.

I peek up the hill through the trees at the Berens Cabin and am reminded of the history it symbolizes of the beginning years here. I’m grateful for all those before me who made this place possible. The fragrant Canadian Hemlocks nearby are moving with more than the wind.  Dozens of chickadees are picking away at the tiny cones, hanging in every direction off the tree like ornaments and are having their own holiday feast together. The canopy of this tree makes excellent cover for birds and other wildlife like turkey and it is the preferred food source of these favorite cheery birds and more.

Canadian Hemlock cones

It was hard to pull myself away, but I’m glad I did. I notice the elegant Cedar Waxwings on the vibrant Winterberry further down the Three-Mile Walk and the robins have their morning brunch in the “Canary” Crabapple trees. It is definitely a perfect day for bird watching here!  The “Winter Gold” Crabapple lights up the other side of the path and I stop to admire how gorgeous the berries are. It is time to go now and focus on the rest of my day, but I will bring this Arboretum peace and beauty with me today and am incredibly grateful for the pause.

Hope to see you here this week too enjoying your own needed, nature break!

Lee Anne Laskey is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer

1 comment on “Grateful for the Pause

  1. Such a beautiful place! Too often people forget the beauty of the season as it transitions to winter. Love it.

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