Last week I defied the weather forecasts and drove up to Lemont determined to revisit Waterfall Glen. Fortunately the rain subsided on the way there and the predicted Thunderstorms passed us by.
(Warning: slugs and millipedes in this post-if you don’t like them, don’t scroll down)
The droplets were gorgeous.
Nature always has a way to give me perspective, and the lessons of that day started with a sign about a trail restoration project.
The park district is removing buckthorn, honeysuckle and other select weedy, invasive trees and shrubs from Kettle Woods, and over time will replant native shrubs.
“Before work began, nearly 85 percent of the trees and shrubs fewer than 4 inches in diameter that grew under Kettle Woods’ leafy canopy were nonnative invasives. Their dense foliage was some of the first to leaf out in the spring and the last to die back in the fall and prevented sunlight from reaching native plants below. In some areas, less than 5 percent of ambient light made it to the woodland floor.”
“Perhaps more critically, young oak and hickory seedlings couldn’t soak up the moisture and light they needed to grow and replace older generations or compete against invasives.” The aftermath of the clearing is jarring.
“By removing the weedy, invasive understory plants, however, the District can bring more moisture and sunlight to the ground, which will accelerate the growth of native flowers and grasses and secure the valuable soil during heavy rains”
“These brighter conditions will also give rise to the next generation of oak and hickory seedlings, which will benefit wildlife and wildlife watchers for years to come. On a larger scale, the healthier, functional woodland will be able to respond better to potentially adverse effects of climate extremes, insect outbreaks and diseases.” A barren view before restoration.
My takeaway was: Clearing out invasive opinions is important for one’s true nature to thrive (even if it looks a bit devastating in the interim)
Naturally the rain drew out the slugs, and I watched a few cross paths. One blog states that as a hermaphrodite, the slug is “considered to embody both the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine. Because of this, the slug is more a spiritual being than an earthly being. Great balance and strength is also a message that the slug can bring to its beholder.”
I came upon a small brown butterfly but it was quite sensitive to my movements. A few of its genus fluttered along the path, but every time I stopped to snap a photo I was accosted by Mosquitos, so I didn’t get as many pictures as I liked.
I resorted to waving my citronella stick around, since the multiple layers I had rubbed on throughout my hike had no effect on the pesky creatures. Waving one hand while trying to focus on a creature with the camera hand proved futile.
It was ‘eat Maike’s left ear day’ for sure. Lin’s Domain says Mosquitos represent temporary irritants: “Rather than letting the temporary irritants take over our lives, focus on protecting our creative projects and our sense of joy and accomplishment. If Mosquito is truly becoming a constant pest, then we need to take serious look at our environment, both work and home. Something needs to change in it.”
My change was to keep moving and not stop for photos as much. Ironically the creative project of nature photography was interrupted temporarily.
I will concede that an overcast day with much moisture in the air does give mosquitos an advantage and ‘right-of-way’ when I visit their habitat.
Psychically, “Damp environments are symbolic of creative, psychic, and emotional areas. …it’s important to find an environment supportive to their creative and psychic sensibilities, necessary for their health and well-being.” blog quote from Ted Andrews’ Animal-Wise.
Away from the trees in the plains areas I was able to stop for other random insects. I’m not a fan of millipedes, but the red-striped variety is fascinating. Via one blog: Millipede sends the message that “successful movement in all endeavors will come with age— ‘late bloomers.’ … Many centipedes are also blind, and this an be a reminder to trust our inner perceptions and not outer appearances.”
Being a lone singleton I sometimes feel that I am getting too set in my ways, but my friend recently told me “You are not ornery, you have stronger boundaries.” I love that thought since I always empathize to the point of giving in to others.
When I saw this prickly thistle I pondered its beauty, and realized that having boundaries (or being ‘prickly’) isn’t ugly at all.
The thistle was surrounded by plants that had heart-shaped seed pods, which I found another striking analogy. Love seemingly seeking out the thistle.
Then I came upon this lovely snail which was oblivious to my camera shutter as it navigated the gravel path. Its message: “Snail people are often loners, not very social and often timid. Their life lesson will be to learn to trust. Learning to balance trust and protection is a difficult lesson. Snails also teach us to protect the inner child.” Interestingly a few books and interactions are urging me to honor the inner child, so I will keep working on that this summer.
I chuckled at the last phrase of a prairie sign.
On the way back to my car several swallows soared above me, representing objectivity and perspective per Lin’s Domain: “Rise above the small stuff and you will gain a better perspective on your life.”
I doused my ear in vinegar when I got home, and the swelling went down after a few hours. I may have to eat and rub on some garlic or vinegar on the next humid hike.
The walk did help me step through some things that had been bugging me, and allowed me take a break from the giant to-do and should-do lists awaiting me at home.
The wind and moisture felt cleansing, and I will heed the insights this trail gave me as I make my moves throughout the summer.