Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve, Allen County

      The husband/wife nature hike continues as my special hiking companion, hubby Sherman,  accompanies me to the Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve in Allen County.
      If you visited my last post, you know my husband, Sherman, is my hiking companion today, and we started our hike at the Robert C. and Rosella C. Johnson preserve which is immediately adjacent to the Dustin preserve.  

A peek at Cedar Creek
      By now, we know we've crossed over into the Dustin preserve because we have reached Cedar Creek. Cedar Creek forms the southern boundry of this preserve, and is a State Scenic and Recreational River.  There are only 3 rivers in Indiana with this designation. (The others are Wildcat Creek in Tippecanoe and Carroll counties and the Blue River in Harrison, Crawford, and Washington counties.)
A perfectly sunny day.  I love how the reflections of the trees in the water
look almost as lifelike as the real things.
      As the roadside sign says, the Dustin preserve is also the home of the Acres Land Trust office. Much of this preserve, including the house which is now Acres' administrative office, was originally owned by Tom and Jane Dustin.  The Dustins were eminent conservationists who helped pass many of Indiana's most significant pieces of conservation statutes, including the Nature Preserves Act and the Natural and Scenic Rivers Act.
Ready for duty.
Visitors to many Acres Land Trust preserves will see birdhouses like this  placed in strategic locations, providing bird habitats for nesting and raising birdie families.  I found these lined up on a shelf outside the Acres Land Trust office
This little guy was the only one working today at the Acres Land Trust offices.  
      Growing outside the office building we found several species of beautiful summer flowers.  I snapped away with my camera while Sherman sat on a bench and, well, texted.

Tiger lily.  We all drive by scads of tiger lilies growing along our roadsides all summer long.
But did you know... 
Native Americans used this flower for food, and tiger lilies are still dried, boiled, baked, or roasted and added to soups and stir-fry dishes in some regions of the world.  The Chinese have used tiger lilies medicinally for over 2000 years. The roots of the lily contain antibacterial, anti-parasitical, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic properties.  In herbal medicine, a tincture made from fresh tiger lily can be used in the treatment of uterine-neuralgia, congestion, and nausea.  Other uses include treatment for heart problems, eye problems, and for symptoms of menopause.
No longer will I take this common orange ditch flower for granted!

Crown Vetch
This invasive summertime wildflower is actually an herb in the legume family.
 That means it is a relative with peas and beans.  These flowers are very attractive to
 bees and butterflies, and as it turns out, poisonous for horses. 
Chameleon plant, or fishwort.
 This plant is native to Japan, Korea, southern China and southeast Asia.  One of the traditional asian terms for this plant is yúxīng cǎo which literally translates to "fishy-smell herb."
I guess we now know why it is also called "fishwort."

      After threatening to steal Sherman's cell phone away and toss it into the nearby Cedar Creek, he finally agreed to put it away for a while.  Long enough to hike back to the car, anyway. And it's a good thing, for if he hadn't stowed it away how could he have found these enormous, century-old trees? Trees that were no doubt here during the occupation of his own Native American ancestors.  Read more about tree growth, age, and how they've joined together here.

It's official!  Sherman is a tree-hugger!
      And how could we have witnessed this quintessential summertime vista together?  Dancing leaves silhouetted against an azure blue sky as perfectly white puffy clouds float by. I prefer this view over a text message any day!

"That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
And the landscape lay as if new created
in all the freshness of childhood."
-  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

      We should all lay down our cell phones once in a while, and enjoy the natural splendor that surrounds us, wherever we are!  See you next time!

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