Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's amazing what you can learn when you get out(side) once in a while.

      Technically, the activities planned for a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship project are to take place during a concentrated 6-week period in the summer time. Teachers, of course, are engaged in the business of molding young minds during the rest of the year. However, the activities necessary for me to “unearth my creative identity” began last weekend with a visit to Hathaway Preserve at Ross Run.


       My proposed stained glass panels are not going to design themselves, and my ADD brain is not good at receiving mystical visions of highly aesthetic and compositionally complete visual inspirations. So, Phase One of my project is to visit the 28 Acres Land Trust preserves within a 75 mile radius of my home. My travels will take me from Wabash to each nature preserve in Miami, Fulton, Kosciusko, Whitley, Allen, Wells, and Huntington counties.
To see a list of Acres Land Trust preserves in these counties visit  http://www.acreslandtrust.org/Preserves.  My time at the preserves will be spent hiking the trails and taking many photographs of images that inspire my artistic eye. It is from these photos that I will compose the final designs for my stained glass compositions.
      On Sunday my kiddos and I took advantage of the gorgeous February weather (yes, I just said “gorgeous February weather!”) and went for a 1.5 hour hike. I was expecting MUD…and we got it! But what I wasn’t expecting were the breathtaking waterfalls that we found at Hathaway! The same rainy weather and ice-melt that provided the thick, messy mud on our shoes were also responsible for the rapidly flowing streambeds and rushing waterfalls we saw on our journey! 
I know what you're thinking..."she REALLY doesn't get out
much if she considers THAT a waterfall!"
I’ve stated before that we are shamefully guilty of not taking advantage of our Acres membership and so don’t hike much. But when we do, it’s always in the summer when all the streams, creeks, and waterfalls are dried up. What a wonderful lesson I’ve learned… get to the waterfalls when there is actually water to fall!!
There would never be this much water falling in the summer!

We just kept walking and finding more waterfalls! 
       I was also expecting to see a lot of brown, dead or dormant growth, and to NOT find much in the way of green. It is still winter, after all. And while we didn’t find any green shoots, buds, or seedlings, we did find green…moss!
It is not true that moss only grows on the north side of trees. In fact, it will grow anywhere it can find moisture and sunlight...like on this exposed bedrock.
     Frankly, I love moss - the thick, spongy, bright green kind that makes you feel like you are walking on clouds. I didn’t realize it, but moss is an evergreen plant. (Further proof that we rarely venture very far out into nature, especially in the winter, or I would have known this by now.) It stays green all winter and obtains all its nutrients from the air and from rainfall - it has no true roots.
More green: these fungi look green, but they are actually covered with a very fine moss!

      So all-in-all, I’d say my first outing for Phase One of my project was productive. We spent some quality time in the great outdoors, saw waterfalls in February, and learned something new about one of the worlds oldest plants. I think I’ll try it again this weekend!
It’s amazing what you can learn when you get out(side) once in a while!

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