Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fogwell Forest, Allen County
     The latest stop on our nature preserve tour was Fogwell Forest in Allen county, near Roanoke, Indiana.  It was an easy walk, a good pick for my tired, borderline fussy kiddos as the trail was only 1/2 mile long.  However short, our hike was quite diverting.

     One of the first sights that met my eye were what appeared to be these magical glowing red leaves interspersed among the leaves of a normal looking tree.  Upon further investigation, it turned out that these leaves were not, in fact, glowing. Big surprise.  The sun was simply reflecting off of them in a way that highlighted their dynamic, rich redness.
     The magical red leaves were part of this stand of trees that were growing so close together that all their leaves appeared to be "mixed up," into one green-and-red-leafed conglomeration.  Pretty beautiful if you ask me.  

My kids just don't get it when I get excited about photographing things it seems only I can see.
     One of my favorite things to teach in my art classes is color theory: how and why the colors are arranged on the color wheel, and how colors relate and interact with each other.  The kids love it too because it's, well...colorful! Colors are easy to see and understand and are very relevant to everything we do in art.  Anyway, one of the color concepts we investigate is complementary colors, or color opposites.  
Red and green sit opposite each other on this color wheel. 
     The 12 basic colors are arranged in a circle called a color wheel.  Since there are 12, everyone has an opposite color, it's "complement."  Even though they are opposites, when seen together complementary colors "compliment" each other by providing contrast and are generally pleasing to the eye.  

Red-violet and yellow-green are complementary colors.
     I love finding examples of complementary colors in nature.  It's as if nature knew long before man which colors would work the best together and be the most eye-appealing!  The red and green mixed-up trees above are just one example of nature's complements.  If you open your eyes to complementary colors, you can find them all around!  

The red and green complementary pair is quite prolific in nature.
Orange and blue (I doctored this photo a little, I confess.) These teasel pods were photographed at Bock Nature Preserve in Kosciusko county.
     Complementary colors aside, we passed many other eye-catching artworks of nature on our walk.  

I love how the sunlight illuminates the interior of this trail entrance, as if it is beckoning us to enter.
An interesting  juxtaposition of shapes and colors.

I've been seeing these green berry things at every preserve we've visited, always
curious as to what they are.  They are the fruit of the dogwood tree. It turns out
we've had three of them growing in our yard for years!
Yarrow, also called "nosebleed plant" for its ability to stop bleeding.
It is said that you can apply the leaves of the yarrow plant directly to an
injury and it will staunch the flow of blood.
 I'd still recommend a nice clean band-aid. 
This patch of Sensitive Fern creates a nice pattern of lines and shapes. 
     When we started our hike, Hank and Evelynn were grouchy and tired.  They tend to fight a lot on any given day, so you can imagine the interplay of dirty looks and sneaky swats aimed at each other as we approached Fogwell Forest. But nature has a way of calming one's soul. It's nothing new...a slow leisurely walk surrounded by dappled shadow, cool breezy air, and the calming green colors of dancing leaves and plants will improve your mindset in just a few minutes.  There's actually word for this..."forest bathing."  This is the English translation of the Japanese term, "Shinrin-yoku," which means to literally surround yourself with forest air. According to research, the airborne natural chemicals that plants emit to warn off insects and strengthen their immune system has benefits for humans, too. The forest air leads to lower concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol, a lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure, leading to a much better attitude!  Even for tired, grumpy kids.

It works!
See you next time!


  1. These are some of my favorite pics you've taken so far. So how much did you have to bribe them to hold hands??