Monday, July 2, 2012

Acres Along the Wabash, Wells County
      A week or so ago, the kids and I ventured over to Wells county to visit Acres Along the Wabash nature preserve.  As the name implies, the entire southern edge of this preserve borders the Wabash River.  It makes for some very scenic hiking!  
A view of the Wabash River from atop a tree-lined bluff.
Overlooking the river, it's easy to imagine a time when Native Americans roamed this land, and white explorers paddled down this river. 
We weren't the only ones visiting the river today!  
Calm waters today.
The lack of rain lately made it possible for us to venture out to the
middle of the river and rest on a stoney "island." 
      Although it's hard to imagine any explorers paddling down the river today (they'd have to carry their canoe most of the time), we did find some enormous trees that we decided are probably old enough to have been growing here when Native Americans called this area home.
Old trees have a way of making us feel small!
Tree trunks grow thicker every year by adding a new ring of growth.  New growth takes
 place in the cambium, the soft layer of tissue between the wood and bark of trees.
This tree has many, many growth rings, I am sure!
      Many of Indiana's forest tree species, like oaks, sycamores, maples, and elms, have lifespans of an average of 200 years.  And since the Native Americans occupied this area until 1846 (166 years ago), it is very conceivable that these trees shared this land with the Miami tribes who lived along the Wabash River. 

Hank found 3 trees in one!
Actually, there's a name for this!  When trees become conjoined during growth, it's called inosculation.  The trees first grow separately, but very close to each other. As they add growth
rings and become wider, the trees eventually touch. At this point, the bark on the touching surfaces is gradually abraded away as the trees move in the wind and rub against each other.  Once the cambium of the trees touch, they self-graft and grow together.  

    While playing down at the river, Hank found the shell of a river mussel. It is not uncommon to find dozens of these freshwater shells littering the banks of the Wabash. 
Mussels are simple creatures kept safe by two oblong shells connected by a hinge.  
There are 47 different freshwater mussel species found in Indiana, of which 24 are
 considered federally or locally endangered.  
      I love it when I find similarities in unrelated things, especially naturally occurring things.  It's God's little treat for me.  I love how these fungi and flowers resemble the shape of the mussel shell...
Turkey Tail fungi is a type of decay fungus,  feeding on rotten wood.  
These dry flower husks also resemble the mussel shell shape.
As usual, down every path we found many interesting shape patterns and textures in the foliage:
I love how these leaves appear to be lined up, one in front of the other.
We were thankful for a cooling breeze on this hot day.
 You can see evidence of the breeze in these blowing leaves.
Compound leaves, small and brilliant green
Patterns even appear in the shadows!

      We enjoyed our time at Acres Along the Wabash.  If you ever find yourself in Wells county, you should stop by for a stroll through Indiana's natural splendor!  By the way, just a few roads over is another Acres preserve, Anna Brand Hammer.  Guess where we're heading next?   See you there!

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