Today I arrive in Forest Park shortly after 4 PM and park next to the swamp. I think I will collect leaves today. I start to collect some leaf samples, but am thinking there has to be a better way of categorizing them than simply stuffing them into my backpack.
The swallows are swooping and diving over the algae-clogged waters, so I park myself on the edge and watch for a while. I try to follow the swallows with my camera, but it’s not an easy proposition. Gnats come to investigate me as I concentrate on an eastern kingbird sitting on a branch of a fallen tree in the midst of it all. I use voice transcription to send myself notes via email as I wander the park, and Siri writes NATS instead of Gnats. Most of the time the transcriptions are good, but several times I have had a hard time understanding what I originally said when I read my email.
The Canada geese on the other side of the swamp look at me suspiciously and the sun seems to turn the thermostat up a bit, so I decide to seek out some shade. Spider wort surrounds the swamp as do Mongolian and pin Oak trees. I pause to sample their leaves and press onward into meadows of the Deer Lake Natural area.
It turns out to be rather hazardous walking, though. In this meadow, as in many of the other areas of the park, plants have been cut quite low to the ground leaving stumps for the unwary pedestrian to trip over and impale himself while vines and branches are left behind to snare the innocent wanderer. I manage, somehow, to remain vertical.
In what a nearby sign describes as the savanna I come upon a grove of sweet gum trees, great shade trees in what seems a perfect environment for nature dreaming and time wasting. Virginia creeper and climbing euonymus curl around their trunks, but, as if in anticipation of the unwanted advances of tree-huggers, so does poison ivy. I look around me and see that though the field is thick with red clover it is also thick with the much less welcome poison ivy. I’m glad I’m wearing long pants, but next time I will also wear my boots!