As we grow older, our collection of memories, stored as visual images, smells, emotions, and countless other visions that are too difficult to describe begin to blend and blur, forming an incredible goulash of goodness. Our experiences increase, and what we view as our defining moments in our lives begin to rise to overshadow that pot of goulash, eventually bubbling over and flaring up in a cloud of steam. This is our realization of what is really important in each of our lives. Although I've photographed and naturalized in far flung places like Australia, Borneo and across America, and seen more pristine natural areas in Ohio that puts me in company with only a handful of people, I don't think any of these experiences will equal the emotional rush that Megan and I hope to experience sometime, at Riverside Hospital in Columbus, within the next 14 days.
With that being said, I took the time this past Monday, president's day, and in fact my 30 birthday, and my own mother's 59th birthday, to explore one of my old haunts, Kenney Park in Columbus Ohio.
Perhaps what marks this park as an urban cooperative is a recently restored footbridge that spans an old stream channel on the floodplain of the Olentangy River. Columbus' parks systems are fairly unmanaged, and recently, the position of director of natural resources for the parks system was eliminated. This park relies on its users to provide maintenance and upkeep.
Although I do not know his name, one of our old neighbors re-planked and old bridge, carving and painting the names of the dogs that had frolicked along the banks of the Olentangy.
A walk across the bridge allowed me some familiar views.
Canada geese, now ever present along the Olentangy.
Mallard ducks, also ubiquitous.
The white barked sycamores, adapted to thrive in the floodplain.
The corky bark of the hackberry
The evergreen leaves of a Carex.
The seed head of wild rye (Elymus)
The former home of a woodpecker,
A Carolina chickadee,
And a white-throated sparrow, hiding amongst the mast of box-elder samaras.
Although Megan and I have only recently been removed from this park- a place that felt like an extension of our backyard, it feels like years have gone by. It is hard to believe that when our pregnancy began, our house sat only 100 feet away from the green corridor. When I walked into the woods this past Monday, I must admit, I looked at the weeds and my analytical botanical mind started to trash the place. However, I was quickly reminded why I enjoyed the place so much. There simply is nothing like having a little bit of nature, not matter how trounced upon and full of invasive species, that you feel a part of. We haven't found that connection yet at our new house, but as we live here, I'm going to slowly transform the backyard into a mecca for Ohio native plants where our future naturalist, if he or she chooses, can grow and explore.