Seasons Flowing with the Waters of Bradford Creek

I’ll begin with the broad lesson I draw from these photos and reflections:

Just as the waters of Bradford Creek flow ceaselessly seaward, Nature’s seasons advance reliably day after day, annually completing a full cycle. So too do the seasons of our lives pass year after year.

Seasonal Progress Across Geography

I published a Blog Post June 5, 2018, chronicling the advance of spring across a 660-mile south-to-north road transect from Madison, Alabama to just north of Pittsburgh, PA: https://stevejonesgbh.com/2018/06/05/six-hundred-sixty-mile-transect/. Elevation and latitude are powerful variables controlling spring’s inexorable trip northward.

Yet we don’t need to travel to observe seasonal shifts. I offer here my observations at a fixed place (nearby Bradford Creek) from October 12, 2019 (climatically very late summer here in north Alabama) through the end of May, 2020 (early summer here). Keep in mind that my characterization of climatic season is based upon a life perspective across thirteen career-driven interstate moves, including stays in upstate New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, western Maryland, and Alaska, as well as Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama..

Seasons Flowing with the Waters of Bradford Creek

October 14 in Fairbanks, Alaska (our home for four years) is the autumn date when the average high temperature first rests at freezing. From that point through April 1, the average daily high stays below 32 degrees. I snapped the photo below October 12, three weeks ahead of Huntsville’s average date of first freezing temperature (November 2). Snow had already fallen in Fairbanks by October 12 each of the four autumns we resided there. In fact, first flakes arrived by the end of September. Along Bradford Creek October 12, the hardwoods had begun dropping brown leaves, blanketing the sand and gravel bars. Canopy-greens are fading. In central Interior Alaska, aspen and birch reached full fall color during the first two weeks of September; branches were bare before the fall equinox. Therefore, I do not hesitate to observe that October 12 represents very late summer along Bradford Creek.

Bradford Creek

 

By November 5 the mood had changed. Still a lot of leaves clinging above. Greens weakening to yellow-brown. More fall than summer, yet clearly short of winter.

Bradford Creek

 

By December 4, I am willing to declare winter-like. A few residual main canopy brown leaves, some which will persist until spring leaf-out. Bradford Creek flowing gently, evidencing that seasonal rains had not yet begun to return creek levels to typical winter flush.

Bradford Creek

 

Ah, by December 28 we have reached deep winter (again, winter is relative), looking nothing here like the Hallmark Card ideal of New England Christmas cards. Bare trees and occasional bank-full flow along the creek.

 

A week later (January 3) Bradford Creek had receded from flood, leaving debris scattered across the trail. Grandson Sam poses on a stranded log. I admit to missing the threat and reality of a classic major north-land snow, yet I continue to embrace the magic of a Gulf-fed deluge over a couple of days, triggered by a low pressure system encountering an attempt by winter to surge southward.

Local Greenways

 

For two reasons I skipped ahead to the spring equinox (March 22). First, I don’t venture out on the trail often during the wet and chill of winter. Second, the seasons don’t progress much during January and February. By this point stream-side green is bursting and the canopy is evidencing bud break. Spring has sprung! In contrast, one of our Fairbanks year we experienced a high of one-degree below zero April 1, no fooling!

Bradford Creek

 

And from the webcam on our University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, here is the image taken at the spring equinox 2020. Still a snowpack of nearly three feet. Bud break remains a distant dream. Spring has not sprung, except as a point on the calendar.

West Ridge Webcam

 

Spring along Bradford Creek soon surges… explodes. By April 4 light green dominates.

Bradford Creek

 

Within the next few days, greens deepen and shade begins to grace the forest floor.

Bradford Creek

 

By April 26 the mood gives faint evidence of the winter just ending. I consider this full-spring, deep spring if you will.

 

Even the understory shrubs and herbaceous perennials are in full leaf by May 5.

Bradford Creek

 

May 19, by any standards and criteria I might select, we are squarely in what I would characterize as early summer!

Bradford CreekBradford Creek

 

Aldo Leopold famously captured the flow of seasons on his Wisconsin property seventy years ago in his timeless classic, A Sand County Almanac. I don’t suggest that this brief photo essay is on par with Leopold’s near poetic, deeply philosophical, and scientifically spot-on musings. However, I do hope that my photo and reflective journey along nearby Bradford Creek from October through May does in some small way enlighten, inform, and inspire readers to appreciate, value, and enjoy the magic of local wildness across the seasons.

Thoughts and Reflections

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

The fundamental truth I draw from this Blog Post: Just as the waters of Bradford Creek flow ceaselessly seaward, Nature’s seasons advance reliably day after day, annually completing a full cycle. So too do the seasons of our lives pass year after year.

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Reward, and Heal you!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://eepurl.com/cKLJdL

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

My Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's Books

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

A Covid-19 Escape Hike — Inspiration from Nature’s Curiosities

I published a previous Post (including one of my poems) based upon my March 21, 2020 Covid-19 hike at nearby Rainbow Mountain Preserve: http://stevejonesgbh.com/2020/03/24/resurrection-fern-a-metaphor-in-verse-for-natures-simplicity/ I focused that Post on the wondrous nature of resurrection fern. I subsequently issued a Post on spring wildflowers I encountered on that same spring equinox hike: http://stevejonesgbh.com/2020/04/27/a-covid-19-escape-hike-wildflower-lift/

A lot more than resurrection fern and wildflowers impressed me on that several-hour leisurely hike through the preserve.

Rainbow Mountain

 

No matter where or when I ramble through Nature I search for the unusual shapes, forms, and curiosities. I included this photo in that prior Post, focusing then on the still-living contorted eastern red cedar’s (Juniperus virginiana) resurrection fern drapery. I now puzzle with how the cedar managed to get in the shape it’s in. I see no direct evidence of physical injury, yet I know the tree had no reason to independently contort itself. Often when I encounter odd tree forms I can construct a scenario to explain, usually finding causal evidence. I can only offer that this specimen brought to mind some alien creature from Men In Black! Seriously, this ridge top has seen human influence for more than a century. The abundant cedar, an early successional pioneer species, suggests that what is now closed forest may have been pastured, then abandoned and naturally transitioned to forest. This individual, long ago a supple sapling, may have been manipulated (bent/doubled over) for some reason not now apparent.

Rainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

As I said, cedar is a major stand component across the upper elevations of Rainbow Mountain. Much of it is dead and dying, including this face (showing its dead and decaying interior wood) of the larger of these two living cedar. I found fascination in its agonized (my impression) branching,  with its deep red exposed decaying heart. I imagined that in its dying throes the tree is reaching out with brittle and bare arms to beseech help. I may have communicated false hope when I stopped to snap a few photos. Had I been hiking in evening’s gloaming, I may have steered away from those grasping arms. I recall my early career days as a forest products industry forester, who found sheer joy and reward in viewing standing trees through my commercial lens: assessing number of 16-foot logs; potential lumber yield; and dollar value. I still admire a tall, straight bole without apparent defect. But at this stage of life, I register value mostly through my lenses of emotion, aesthetics, art, heart, spirit, and soul… a sort of sacred value metric.

Rainbow Mountain

 

Offering high visual reward, here are twin dead stems of the original cedar successional stage. Longer-lived oaks and hickories are now the dominant main canopy species. Nothing unusual about dead and dying trees within even healthy forest stands. Death and life go hand in hand; nothing in Nature is static. Because cedar is naturally decay resistant (sure, it decays but just takes a lot longer), its dead soldiers remain standing sometimes for decades, providing many persistent ghost trees… marvels for my camera and fuel for my imagination.

Rainbow Mountain

 

Not just Cedar Tree Curiosities

But cedar served as just one dimension of the curiosities I encountered. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland, “Curiouser and curiouser! Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English.”

I encountered magnificent works of pure art, crafted by Nature’s hands. I am sure that a mere human would find challenge in creating the trail-side decayed stump sculpture. I could not discern whether this tree had been cut or the stem toppled by wind or ice. Because it is hollow I will assume breakage either before or after its death. Electing not to defile its beauty, I did not attempt with knife or foot to ascertain wood/species identity. I am satisfied with simply dubbing it the mossy stump sculpture.

Rainbow MountainRainbow Mountain

 

Trees suffer physical injury from multiple causes, including: ice and snow load breakage; wind; a nearby tree or branch falling. Trees have endured such damage since the first tree rose above the brush. They begin immediately compartmentalizing the wound to limit penetration by agents of decay, usually fungi. The first line of defense is chemical. Longer term the tree stimulates adjoining cambial tissue to callous over the injury. Below are two examples from that hike of oak trees combating serious injury. The coat-hook stub below left is about eight feet above ground. The resurrection fern hanging garden perches on a similarly-healed stub at about twenty feet. The old timber forester residing within me would have viewed both oaks as marginally merchantable due to poor stem form and apparent quality defects. The now-retired forest/naturalist sees an entirely different value metric. The metric gives high weight to a curiosity factor!

Rainbow MountainRainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

Some trees provoke fear and terror. I dared not stand too long near this sign-eating hickory. Perhaps the moss infuses some evil elixir, stimulating a hunger for the metal placard. Maybe the soil is deficient in some minerals derived from the sign. Or the tree could be of superior intellect starving for the written word. No matter what prompted this absorbing behavior, the forest is rich with curiosities that enrich any Nature venture.

Rainbow Mountain

 

And I just can’t get enough of our ubiquitous non-flowering plants! What better than a stem moss carpet with a few scattered lichens! A gentle cushion for my trekking pole. And another such pole support, this one providing anchorage for a vertical resurrection fern garden.

Rainbow MountainRainbow Mountain

 

And this dead cedar stem bedecked with moss, lichens, and resurrection fern. A rich palette of life flourishing on a staff of death. May the circle be unbroken. Could we possibly create such paradox by design and intent? I think not — such is the magic of forest curiosities.

Resurrection Fern

 

Ah, I enjoyed the Nature-dream images of a quiet hike on an early spring morning following a night of soaking rain. Perhaps Rainbow Mountain derives its moniker from resting occasionally at the base of a rainbow. Who knows whether the leprechauns have danced their spells of druid-like curiosities, assisting Nature in weaving magic across the Preserve. Yet, I am not convinced that Rainbow Mountain cultivates a disproportional density of forest curiosities. I find such delight wherever my Nature wanderings take me across this pale blue orb we call home. My secret — believing the magic exists; looking intently for its presence; seeing what to many is hidden in plain sight; feeling the wonder of it all. And then embracing my mission to: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Rainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

I have kept my sanity during this extended Covid-19 House Arrest by escaping repeatedly into local Nature. I practice recommended social distancing. I enjoy fresh air, discover Nature’s secrets, and contemplate my insignificance in the grand web of life.

Thoughts and Reflections

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are the three succinct truths I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Each venture into Nature opens my eyes ever more keenly to discovering her secrets
  2. Nature’s power to lift us and heal us, physically and of the soul, is unlimited
  3. Nature hides richness within plain sight

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Reward, and Heal you!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's BooksRainbow Mountain

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

 

 

A Covid-19 Escape Hike — Wildflower Lift

Covid-19 Escape

March 21, 2020, in the midst of our societal Covid-19-induced social distancing, I hiked nearby Rainbow Mountain Preserve. I posted March 24 about the spectacular resurrection fern profusion that afternoon at the Preserve just three miles from my front door: http://stevejonesgbh.com/2020/03/24/resurrection-fern-a-metaphor-in-verse-for-natures-simplicity/

I saw enough beauty, magic, wonder, and awe to distill to two additional Posts:

  1. This one reviewing the spring wildflowers I encountered
  2. The subsequent one highlighting the curiosities presenting themselves to me

Rather than once again providing the full Land Trust of Northern Alabama background for the Preserve, please visit the March 24 Post.

 

Rainbow Mountain

 

Spring Ephemerals — Hope and Beauty within the Haze of Covid-19

Virginia spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) graced trail-side near the balancing rock just below the southwest rim. Keeping with the same stated theme, within a few feet I found colonies of Virginia saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis), a reliable very early spring bloomer often quite content on shallow soils among such stony outcrops.

Rainbow MountainRainbow Mountain

 

 

 

Two species of trillium greeted me as I began descending the Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail, which continuing counter clockwise would eventually return me to the trail head. Both express green-mottled leaves and what I call purple petals. Persons more color-fully endowed may have a more sophisticated color moniker. I refer to the green-mottled structures as leaves. And although I will continue to do so, I am not technically correct. A USDA Forest website explains:

All trillium species belong to the Liliaceae (lily) family and are rhizomatous herbs with unbranched stems. Trillium plants produce no true leaves or stems above ground. The “stem” is actually just an extension of the horizontal rhizome and produces tiny, scalelike leaves (cataphylls). The aboveground plant is technically a flowering scape, and the leaf-like structures are actually bracts subtending the flower. Despite their morphological origins, the bracts have external and internal structure similar to that of a leaf, function in photosynthesis, and most authors refer to them as leaves.

The first two photos show little sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum), perhaps the most common of all northern Alabama trilliums.

Rainbow MountainRainbow Mountain

 

Similar to little sweet Betsy, twisted trillium (T. stamineum) has clearly twisted sepals. Both species are sessile trilliums. That is, their flowers sit right on the leaves (bracts), without having a stalk. I love the distinct twists, even as I ponder the evolutionary reason. There must be some explanation — a competitive advantage. For now I will leave the pondering to others.

Rainbow Mountain

 

Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) also graced the forest floor. Also called woodland phlox or wild sweet William, its delicate five-petaled flowers on erect stems provided color in an otherwise drab setting of last season’s leaf debris.

Rainbow Mountain

 

Violet woodsorrel (Oxalis violacea), aka sour glass, sour trefoil, and shamrock, presented itself 2-3 days before the flowers fully opened. The one below right came teasingly close to showing its full beauty.

Rainbow MountainRainbow Mountain

 

I’m a big fan of our ubiquitous northern Alabama red buckeye (Aesculus pavia), also known as firecracker plant, whose range extends across the southern and eastern US.  I love its spring firecracker flowers as well as its wonderful fall buckeyes packaged in tan hulls that split when ripe. Red buckeye is sold as a cultivar across the US and apparently thrives at latitudes far north of its native range.

Rainbow Mountain

 

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is another common spring-flowering small tree whose native range extends across the eastern US… from southern Ontario to northern Florida. The tree is an aggressive colonizer, finding a perfect setting along road openings. Redbud’s spring color dominates roadsides where I lived in Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and upstate New York. Redbud is the state tree of Oklahoma. Interestingly, our Alabama state tree, longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), is not native to our Tennessee Valley region of northern Alabama.

Rainbow Mountain

 

Another of my early spring favorites, jack-in-the-pulpit (Ariseama triphyllum), also known as bog onion, brown dragon, and wild turnip, enjoys a range across the eastern US… from Nova Scotia west to Minnesota and south into lower Florida. Look closely to see Jack standing at the pulpit under the green-striped hood. The USDA Forest Service offers a technical description of this unusual flower form: Jack-in-the-pulpit is pollinated by small flies and flowers from March through June depending on locale. The flower is an unusual green and maroon striped spathe surrounding a fleshy, maroon-colored spadix that bears the tiny, embedded flowers. This particular example is particularly pale, absent the maroon shades common to the species.

Rainbow Mountain

 

A Different Kind of Spring Wildflower

To this point I’ve focused on what I’ll term as traditional spring wildflowers. The next two photos likewise picture a spring wildflower… but one of an entirely different nature. This is a non-photosynthesizing (achlorophyllous) parasitic plant. Meet American cancer-root (Conopholis americana), nurturing on the roots of oak and beech. Other common names are squawroot and bear corn, either of which is a more pleasant moniker. I suppose this odd plant cares little what name we give it. I found scores of clusters along my route. I recall seeing my first squawroot when I worked undergraduate summers on the Savage River State Forest in far western Maryland, my home state. Imagine the wonder of finding squawroot on a magical Appalachian Mountain forest bearing a name that included Savage! Fact is, I felt absolute continuing beauty, magic, wonder, and awe during every moment of those two summers. Five decades later, the memory and lift remain within my being… mind, heart, and soul. Amazing what Nature has gifted me across my time’s travel. I suppose there is some level of irony in a non-photosynthesizing (achlorophyllous) parasitic plant transporting me fifty years back in time! I wish such pleasant memories and flashbacks for all who trek Nature’s paths.

Rainbow MountainRainbow Mountain

 

 

 

 

Thoughts and Reflections

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are the three succinct truths I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Each venture into Nature opens my eyes ever more keenly to discovering her secrets
  2. Nature’s power to lift us and heal us, physically and of the soul, is unlimited
  3. Nature hides richness within plain sight

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Reward, and Heal you!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's BooksRainbow Mountain

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

 

 

 

Land Trust Mushroom Hike on Rainbow Mountain

Covid-19 Context

We’re now more than two weeks beyond the call to distance safely from our circle of friends, family, and associates. Judy and I speak of being under Covid-19 house-arrest. We continue our twice-daily neighborhood walks. I’m escaping as often as I can to local hiking trails and greenway bike riding. We are in the heart of spring green-up as I write this Covid-19 Context section. A sad irony that Nature’s cycle goes forward unabated by a pandemic virus that found life (and wrought disease and death) half a world away. A primitive micro-organism that has turned modern society and economy inside-out.

I subscribe to the EarthSky electronic newsletter (https://earthsky.org/). The March 31, 2020 issue reminded readers of this quote from the 3rd book of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings: “There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” God’s green Earth…Nature…and our relationship to it is our light and high beauty… our hope.

I believe sincerely that this, too, shall pass. Already I sense a fundamental change in the world — a deepening humility, a greater recognition of our human frailty, and perhaps a strengthened belief in our oneness. I can’t speak for others, but I accept my own growing spiritualism, more palpable Faith, and an even stronger sacred connection to our Earth, this pale blue orb in the vast darkness of space.

A Final Group Gathering Before Our Collective Social Distancing

March 8, 2020, just a couple days before the US declared a Covid-19 National Emergency, I participated in a Land Trust of North Alabama Mushroom Hike at Rainbow Mountain Nature Preserve in Madison, Alabama: https://www.landtrustnal.org/properties/rainbow-mountain-preserve/ I’ve been a tree guy since entering my undergraduate forestry studies in 1969. I’ve known since those early days that a forest is far more than a collection of trees. Yes, a forest includes the trees, as well as the complex community of biotic and abiotic elements composing the forest ecosystem. Practicing industrial forestry (managing forests for a Fortune-500 Paper and Allied Products Manufacturing company) for 12 years, I focused principally on trees. Yet I retained an abiding interest in the total forest community.

I have never lost my love and enthusiasm for spring wildflowers… wherever we’ve lived along our journey across 47 years and 13 interstate moves. You’ll see a few wildflowers I photographed on the mushroom foray in a section to follow.

Among my favorite courses during my forestry studies: forest pathology, the study of forest diseases and disorders. The vast majority of villains are fungi, including notable nasties like chestnut blight, dutch elm disease, oak wilt, beech bark disease, white pine blister rust, fusiform rust, and other forest deplorables. I wrote about such forest pandemics relative to Covid-19 in my March 19, 2020 Post: http://stevejonesgbh.com/2020/03/19/lyrical-expressions-in-forest-pathogens-under-a-covid-19-cloud/

However, most forest fungal denizens are not pathogenic. Instead, they are saprophytes feeding upon dead woody material. I want to know them better for a set of important reasons:

  1. They are ubiquitous
  2. I see their fruiting bodies (mushrooms) high on the trunks of standing snags and on dead and down woody branches and logs, and reaching up from mycelia in the soil
  3. Some of the mushrooms are edible — the couple that I know are delectable, even if sparsely represented
  4. I want to forage for others fit for my frying pan

We started our hike at the Rainbow Mountain Nature Preserve trailhead atop 1,100-foot Rainbow Mountain, led by Matt Shaw (yellow/green shirt). Polypore fruiting bodies (at least two species) evidence that the responsible fungi’s hyphae and mycelia are hard at work decomposing oak tissue. Fungi, bacteria, and insects act as principal agents to assure “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” in the forest ecosystem’s cycle of life and death. The twenty or so hike participants (below right) enjoyed a perfect spring day, chilly at the outset and warming comfortably as we trekked down to about 760 feet and returned. Hard to imagine from our hike and these photos that we are surrounded by urban development of both Madison and Huntsville, AL. Thank goodness for the Land Trust and the wisdom of citizens and leaders to protect and preserve this wildness.

Mushroom Hike

Mushroom Hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we began our descent we hiked along limestone walls bedecked with lichens and mosses, non-flowering plants that flourish on every surface in our humid climate. Our tour guide focused on the place and role of fungi in our forests, but did not shy away from discussing the total ecosystem, of which lichens and mosses occupy major ecological niches. The old saw, “Nature abhors a vacuum,” seems to hold true… the non-flowering plants occupy every surface.

Mushroom Hike

 

Moss on Limestone Wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mycorhizal Fungi

Our fungi are not limited to pathogens and saprophytes. We explored the critical function of another major subset to the associated living community — mycorhizal fungi, which are represented in tremendous mass below ground. Mycorhizae are fungi in symbiotic relationship with trees, intimately interconnected with the tree’s fine roots, multiplying many fold the trees’ absorptive capacity for both moisture and nutrients. So much in Nature is hidden from view. Here is an excellent explanation of these essential tree partners from an NRCS-USDA website:

Within the last 20 or 30 years, there has been a growing awareness that most vascular plants could not grow and reproduce successfully without the assistance provided by networks of fungi in the soil. This association between plant and fungus is called mycorrhiza (plural: mycorrhizae). In most instances, the relationship is mutualistic (symbiotic). The plant provides sugars and carbohydrates to the fungus and in return the fungus uses its branched, threadlike hyphae (mycelium) to gather water, minerals, and nutrients for the plant. Mycorrhizal fungi greatly expand the reach of the plant’s root systems and are especially important in helping them gather non-mobile nutrients such as phosphorus. These fungi have also been found to serve a protective role for their associated plants; they can reduce plant uptake of heavy metals and salts that may be present in the soil. Many also help protect plants from certain diseases and
insects. Scientists believe that it was mycorrhizal fungi that allowed ancient vascular plants to populate the land. Of the current plant families, 95% include species that either associate beneficially with or are absolutely dependent on mycorrhizal fungi for their survival.

I have often observed that as citizens and leaders we must first see the invisible before we can perform the impossible. Now that we see the invisible below ground partner, we can appreciate and understand how trees perform the impossible task of gathering soil sustenance from their limited actual root hair capacity. The NRCS-USDA website sums up the effect beautifully:

Because we cannot easily see mycorrhizal fungi, we tend to overlook their significance. Their presence in the soil is vitally important to the growth of most plants on our planet. They also perform a critical function in building soil structure and sequestering carbon. Therefore, we need to begin thinking about how what we do to the soil, for example tillage, affects these almost imperceptible fungal systems.

I find a universal truth in the first sentence of that excerpted paragraph… pertaining to all life and living: we tend to overlook (or even ignore) the significance of what we mere humans cannot easily see. We rush headlong through our days oblivious to what escapes our shallow knowledge and myopic vision. I hold steadfast to my belief that every lesson for living, learning, leading, and serving is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. Also applicable with this example is my admonition that five core verbs are essential to learning from Nature. From my stevejonesgbh.com website:

Five Essential Verbs: Believe, Look, See, Feel, and Act.

  • I find Nature’s Lessons because I know they lie hidden within view — belief enables me to look and see
  • Really look, with eyes open to your surroundings, external to electronic devices and the distractions of meaningless noise and data
  • Be alert to see deeply, beyond the superficial
  • See clearly, with comprehension, to find meaning and evoke feelings
  • Feel emphatically enough to spur action

 

Ubiquitous Fungi

The large ash (Fraxinus spp) below certainly grew luxuriously because friendly fungi shared the cause of mutual thriving. The ash now stands recently deceased (or close to death; I could not discern for certain whether some of the crown would yet produce leaves this spring). I don’t believe this individual is an early victim of the emerald ash borer, an introduced pest racing southward, decimating one of our major native commercial forest species. When I drove north in November 2019, the killing front had reached nearly midway between Knoxville and Chattanooga. A sad epidemic to this forester who revered the tall, straight boles of Appalachian cove-site ash, coveted the feel of a Louisville Slugger, and cherished the easy-split and clean burn of ash firewood.

We stopped at this point to observe the cracked-cap bracket fungus clinging about 20 feet above ground. Rather than the emerald ash borer, I believe that this specimen is dying the slow but certain death of a serious and pervasive heart rot, a woody decay fungus. The visible bracket is the fruiting body (mushroom) of the fungus. Like all living organisms, this fungi seeks to reach into the future, sending spores to infect its next host. I won’t hazard a guess at the fungal species. The closest I dare go is to deem it a polypore. Let this serve as a reminder that the cycle of life and death is continuous. What matters most is that the ecosystem persists beyond the demise of individuals. One hundred years ago other ash trees likely stood nearby, dropping the seed that produced this individual. Because we don’t know whether this tree is male or female (that’s right, ash are dioecious; two houses, male and female flowers on separate trees), it may not have produced seed. If not, the plan is that its pollen fertilized a female flower that dropped seeds for its successor generation. Again, life goes forward.

 

Mushroom Hike

 

This red oak (Quercus spp) snag is loaded with desiccating polypore mushrooms. Their associated mycelia are hard at work reducing wood to soil supplement.

Mushroom Hike

 

I recall my mother occasionally admonishing me for speaking about things for which I had too little knowledge, foolishly offering a too-shallow opinion. She would say, “You know just enough to be dangerous.” With respect to our fungal forest associates, I don’t even reach that threshold. The three-inch branch below, wedged between a supple jack vine and a sweetgum sapling, wears a whitish coat of what felt like a spongy layer of fungal mycelia. Our tour guide did not disagree. Its identity awaits my learning more. My only certainty — it, too, is another decomposer, transitioning death back to the assembly line of life.

Mushroom Hike

 

Our tour leader suggested this reference for those of us wishing to assist our learning. It’s now on my wish list!

Recommended Reference

 

Regionally more relevant than my own reference book, which I have as a result of being so mobile over the years.

Reference Book

 

Ah, this stage of life — so much to learn in this time of knowing enough to know that my understanding and knowledge are shallow at best.

Venturing Beyond the Non-Flowering Plants

 

We’ve been examining fungi and other non-flowering plants. Now let’s visit with a non-photosynthesizing (achlorophyllous) parasitic plant. Meet American cancer-root (Conopholis americana), nurturing on the roots of oak and beech. Other common names are squawroot and bear corn, either of which is a more pleasant moniker. I suppose this odd plant cares little what name we give it. We found two clusters as we descended Rainbow Mountain. I recall seeing my first squawroot when I worked undergraduate summers on the Savage River State Forest. Imagine the wonder of finding squawroot on a magical Appalachian Mountain forest bearing a name that included Savage! Fact is, I felt absolute continuing beauty, magic, wonder, and awe during every moment of those two summers. Five decades later, the memory and lift remain within my being… mind, heart, and soul. Amazing what Nature has gifted me across my time’s travel. I suppose there is some level of irony in a non-photosynthesizing (achlorophyllous) parasitic plant transporting me fifty years back in time! I wish such pleasant memories and flashbacks for all who trek Nature’s paths.

Squaw Root

 

Nearby we met little sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum), just hours from full-flower. Other common names for this beauty include: whip-poor-will flower, large toadshade, and bloody butcher. No question which of those monikers I would choose to ignore! I believe that little sweet Betsy would agree.

Sweet Betsy

 

I wanted to make this be rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), but I’ve never seen that species without its delicate stem leaves just under the flowers. So, I stayed with sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba), whose basal leaves are often well-hidden under the prior autumn’s leaf litter. I should have lingered long enough to remove enough fall detritus to confirm the hepatica’s basal leaves. Both species grace us with their creamy white blossoms long before overstory leaf-out. How can we not be grateful for such a gift?!

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

 

Our world is far too small to expect only native plants. We found leatherleaf mahonia (Berberis bealei), native to China, this one within a day or two of full flower. Escaped from ornamental plantings, leatherleaf mahonia is far less aggressive than our ever-present invasive privet. I don’t despair over its glossy evergreen leaves, nor its early spring flowers and blue late summer berries. I know, I am expected by native plant purists to disdain its invasive presence. I just can’t do it — forgive me.

Mahonia

 

Non-plant Frames

Here’s the pleasant view from the falls at the lower end of the hike. Already, the privet (a nasty invasive) is greening the understory. I wonder how much longer until privet captures the entire site, reducing the number and variety of spring ephemerals, and ultimately limiting regeneration of native tree species. I shudder to think that 100 years hence the spring itself will be bordered only by privet shrubs.

Spring

 

For the present, I felt great joy in having this several-hundred acre touch of Nature just three miles from my door. As I ascended the trail back to the hilltop parking area, I felt confident that the same citizen-naturalist force that preserved and protected this within-urban gem will devise a privet-control plan of attack.

Signage

 

I pay yet another tribute to the Land Trust of North Alabama: https://www.landtrustnal.org/ Find your own local Land Trust. Engage to do your part for the next generation!

Thoughts and Reflections

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are the three succinct truths I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Much of what is a forest lies hidden from view
  2. Nature’s power to lift us and heal us, physically and of the soul, is unlimited
  3. Learning more enables and inspires us to do more — changing some small corner of wildness for the better

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Reward, and Heal you!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's BooksRainbow Mountain

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

 

Resurrection Fern — A Metaphor in Verse for Nature’s Simplicity

11 Photos

An Exemplar for Simplicity in a World of Expanding Complexity

I will mention but not dwell upon the fact that Covid-19 house-arrest spurs reflecting, creating, and writing… and encourages me to flourish in Nature whenever I can. March 21, 2020 I drove the short three miles to Rainbow Mountain Nature Preserve to hike the Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail. I know, the old forester below looks like he may already be suffering from some serious malady!

Rainbow Mountain

 

I hiked the day after yet another inch-plus of rain. My timing had purpose — I wanted to see the rich variety of life clinging to trees, especially the amazing resurrection fern… in its full moisture-laden glory. I also saw ubiquitous lichens and mosses in vivid splendor adorning saturated bark, branches, and rocks… their presence highlighted by the deep shade of continuing dense cloud cover. However, today I am focusing on one of my favorite gifts of Nature: resurrection fern.

Resurrection Fern

 

And as I have recently been emboldened to do (by completing a winter term poetry writing course), I offer today’s reflections principally in verse. Magically, even the trail sign is framed by resurrection fern.

Rainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

I discovered this morning as I write this that over the past couple of years I have restricted my photography by and large to the verdant, fully-hydrated version of resurrection fern. I could find no clear photos of the desiccated, dry-dormant version. The best I could do to represent that state of shut-down is this massive oak at Camp McDowell adorned with its robe of dry resurrection fern. Ah, if only I had anticipated this Post and compiled a portfolio of withered fern.

Resurrection Fern

 

So, there you have my foreword, setting the stage for my latest verse… a testament to a wonderfully resilient non-flowering native plant, with a stress-dealing mechanism tested and honed over 360 million years!

Striving for…and with…Simplicity

 

Release a spore to the wind

Trust it to find suitable anchorage,

This special fern finds all it needs

Perched high in the fork of a tree

 

Resurrection fern, Pleopeltis michauxiana

Southeastern USA forest resident,

An epiphyte of high aerial regard

Clinging to branches and bark

 

No parasite this exquisite plant

Non-flowering, just like other pteridophytes,

But vascular, unlike neighbor-mosses,

Yet all are green with chloroplasts ablaze

 

No need to reach for the sun

The tree does the vertical work,

No need for forest soil and deep roots

Tree surfaces bear water and nutrients

 

Yet from time to time showers lessen

Hot breezes swing the boughs,

No moisture within reach

Time to close the door… rest

 

The fern knows the drill,

Responding with adaptation,

Hitting the off switch, drawing within,

Wilting without complaint

 

Master of dry-spell deception

The fern sleeps with drought,

Desiccated, feigning death, withered

Simply turning life off with ease

 

Waiting patiently, anxiety-free,

Knowing the rain will come,

As it always does in these humid climes,

Resuscitating the deceased

 

Springing to life with turgid cells

Moisture awakens the dead,

Resurrected from deepest sleep

Arboreal garden alive and green

 

No lesser organisms are these,

Finding plenty amid scarcity,

Thriving for 360 million years

Adaptable to whatever tomorrow brings

 

(Do we humans know the drill,

Responding with science and sense,

Hitting the off switch, drawing within,

Beating Covid-19 with social distance?)

 

Should humans fail the test,

Ferns will grace the remains, and

Festoon the decay of civilization,

Declaring their reign of simplicity

 

Release a spore to the wind

Trust it to find suitable anchorage,

An epiphyte of high aerial regard

Clinging to branches and bark

 

 

Leonardo da Vinci observed: Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world. I agree… and offer that Nature is the consummate artist.

Resurrection FernResurrection Fern

 

An epiphyte of high aerial regard

Clinging to branches and bark

Resurrection FernRainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

Release a spore to the wind

Trust it to find suitable anchorage,

This special fern finds all it needs

Perched high in the fork of a tree

Rainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

No parasite this exquisite plant

Non-flowering, just like other pteridophytes,

But vascular, unlike neighbor-mosses,

Yet all are green with chloroplasts ablaze

Resurrection Fern

Rainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A two-hour Covid-escape hike reveals magic, spurs contemplation, and lifts spirits. Perhaps we require something like a global pandemic to give us pause, consider our place in the world, and draw together for the common good. We need Nature’s places far more than she needs us. No matter our fate, Nature will reach far beyond our time and place.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Natural Rules of Simplicity

 

I often look back 500 years to seek enlightenment from Leonardo da Vinci, who saw wisdom in Nature and expressed it simply and profoundly. Some examples:

  • In her (nature’s) inventions nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.
  • Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.
  • Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.
  • Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity.
  • Nature never breaks her own laws.

Resurrection fern, whose moniker so beautifully expresses its secret to life and living, is simplicity itself:

  • An ancient form, long ago proven fit and sustainable
  • Spore disseminated, wind-dependent
  • An epiphyte, elevated anchorage courtesy of trees
  • Stress-coping as its mainstay
  • Relatively free from grazers
  • Writes no poetry
  • Concerns itself not with philosophy, fate, or social distancing
  • It is what it is

Simplicity rules the day, the year, the centuries, the eons!

Thoughts and Reflections

 

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are the three succinct truths I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Simplicity ensures evolutionary success
  2. Nature is the consummate artist
  3. Nature’s power to inspire and lift us is unfathomable — jettison the potential mental, physical, social, and spiritual anguish of Covid-19 by escaping to nearby Nature

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire and Reward you… and keep you healthy!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's BooksPhotos of Steve

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

Release a spore to the wind

Trust it to find suitable anchorage,

An epiphyte of high aerial regard

Clinging to branches and bark

Bethel Spring North Alabama Land Trust: Yet Another Natural Gem

A Corona Virus Statement of Context

I am completing this Post on March 15, 2020 as the Corona virus pandemic is burdening our spirit, dashing economic activity, and giving us pause to reflect on the specter of a future bug that could place our entire humanity at peril. I am at my computer only because we cancelled a trip north to visit our son and his family in Pittsburgh. I admit that Judy and I are a bit bummed. Yet I know that Nature is unfazed. She marches on… unconcerned about our future. I take solace that life will prevail no mater what!

 

Visiting Bethel Spring Nature Preserve

February 29, 2020, The Land Trust of North Alabama cut the ribbon to open a new feature property and trails, the Bethel Spring Nature Preserve: https://www.landtrustnal.org/properties/bethel-spring-preserve/

I participated in the Land History Hike, led by local historian John Kvach, who shared 150 years of history for the 360-acre property on Keel Mountain in Madison County. A fabulous piece of southern Appalachian woodland complete with mixed upland forest, a few early spring ephemerals, limestone ledges, karst topography, a gorgeous waterfall, an old mill site, and a spring house at the trail-head. I won’t duplicate the website detail, nor rehash the history that John so ably presented. Instead, I’ll offer some Nature observations, reflections, and photos from our hike.

Opening Hike

 

In prior Posts for my explorations of Land Trust property, I’ve made these paraphrased comments, worthy of repeating:

I offer another tribute and appreciation to our Land Trust of North Alabama for its partnership in creating the Bethel Spring Nature Preserve and other special places locally. I love the Land Trust’s tagline: “Conservation in Action!” As a former four-time university president, I hold that application adds value to knowledge. Applying knowledge (driven by dedication and passion) brings action to bear. Without applying action to conservation, we as humanity, communities, and individuals practice only a shallow and meaningless conservation inaction. Amazing how removing that one space (between ‘in’ and ‘action’) changes the entire essence. Talking by itself can amount merely to conservation virtue-signaling. The Land Trust gets it done! I applaud its action, guided by a succinct and noble mission: The Land Trust preserves land and its legacies for conservation, public recreation, and environmental education to enhance quality of life in North Alabama now and for the future.

Needless to say, I am a big Land Trust of North Alabama fan! The weather-makers blessed us with a perfect Saturday. Since December 1, 2019 I had measured just under 30″ of rain through February. You’ll see a bit later that the waterfall blessed us with full flow. The falls dump into a sink, resurfacing at the spring house (below left), near the trailhead at approximately 630′ elevation. That’s John below right addressing our group.

Bethel Springs Nature PreserveOpening Hike, at Spring House

 

I include the trail sign photo for two reasons. First, to show that the trails are well-marked. Second, to chronicle our flow through the property. You can follow along on the website trail map: https://41bfok2rrfmy84ghm2vvsaxf-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Bethel-Spring_Kiosk-Map-2020.pdf

Opening Hike, First Leg

 

We hiked beneath these distinctive limestone ledges through second-growth (at least) upland hardwood, predominately oak and hickory. The poor stocking, maximum heights 60-70-feet, and lots of dead and down woody debris suggested low site quality on the SSE-facing convex slope. However, at some point likely 80+ years ago a loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) seed found relatively friendly and fertile footing lower right.

Opening Hike, Scrub along LedgeOpening Hike, Glynn at Big Lob

 

We stopped along what John called an “old federal road,” still at the foot of the exposed ledge, remaining in the poor quality (my forester’s timber value perspective) stand of mixed upland hardwoods.

Opening Hike, Old Federal Road

 

Gradually ascending to the 710-foot contour, we turned left from Carpenter Trail onto Falling Sink Trail, which led us to Bethel Spring Falls at 1,040-feet.

Opening Hike, Second Leg

 

We could not have hoped for a better day — early spring, bright sunshine, and lots of water cascading into the sink.

Opening Hike, Group at FallsOpening Hike, Waterfall

 

I could have sat there for hours, yet the tour continued. I had hoped to capture a photo suggesting that I was alone with the falls. However, a blue-jeaned leg appeared before I snapped the shutter!

Opening Hike, Leaving the Falls

 

The Mill Trail descended from the falls. A stream does not carry the flow from the falls above ground. The yawning-mouthed sink swallows the flow, ushering it through the karst topography to the spring house. The sink covers a little less than an acre, a concavity with deep rich soils. One yellow poplar exceeded 100-feet, reaching higher than the lip of the falls. I love these southern Appalachian Mountain sinks. They remind me of the tremendously productive cove sites, concave positions on lower north and east slopes throughout our ancient mountains.

Opening Hike, Acre Sink Below FallsOpening Hike, Descending to Mill Foundation

 

As we dropped toward the old mill, this loblolly pine evidenced its relationship with insects and yellow-bellied sapsuckers. We foresters call this “bird peck.” Sapsuckers tend to work their bark search and mining operations back and forth, hence the horizontal pecking pattern.

Opening Day, Y-B Sapsucker Pecks

 

The old mill house foundation (below left) stands at about the 850-foot level. All of the wooden top-structure has long since returned to the soil through decay or fire. Only a few iron relics belie the foundation’s purpose. I had spent too much time exploring in the sink to hear much of John’s history explanation. I saw no evidence that water power had originated from natural surface flow. No apparent mill race. I assume that operators directed water from the falls via closed pipes or half-pipes. Again, the tour moved on down the trail. Perhaps I can devote a future visit to exploring at depth. The photo below right suggests that the site warrants considerable study and contemplation.

Opening Hike, Mill FoundationOpening Hike, at Mill Foundation

 

I persuaded a fellow hiker to catch me at the preserve sign after we completed our hike.

Opening Hike

 

Early Spring Ephemerals

 

It’s that time of year when spring ephemerals begin exploding on the forest floor. They appear in predictable sequence. None of the “first will be last” for these reliable understory beauties. Near the spring house we found rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) and sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba). Like all woodland spring ephemerals, these two splendid white denizens flourish during the warming period prior to forest canopy leaf-out, when sunlight reaches the forest floor uninhibited. Even their foliage senesces by early June, thus the ephemeral moniker.

Open Hike, Rue anemone

Opening Hike, Hepatica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not surprisingly, we also found cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) and common blue violet (Viola sororia) in full flower. The woods are alive with beauty, magic, wonder, and awe for those willing to walk slowly and marvel at the vernal gifts!

Opening Hike, cutleaf toothwortOpening Hike, violet

With each day of spring’s progression, the flower sequence will shift and numbers increase. There will come a time soon when rather than chronicle all my observations I will simply hit the highlights. For now, I shall cherish each appearance of a new flower face!

And Some Resurrection Fern

 

I never tire of our resurrection fern (Pleopeltis michauxiana) — our aerial moisture-meter. Whether draping from the fork of a mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa) at the parking lot or perched atop a trail-side rock, the fern flushes with recent rain or wilts to desiccation during dry periods. Nature’s ways astound at every turn. This remarkable fern need not waste energy reaching for the sun — tree branches give it lift. Dead organic matter furnishes all the anchorage and nutrients necessary for this non-flowering plant that asks for little. Our 55-inch annual rainfall brings full life often enough to help this wonderful plant thrive in our southern sylvan oases.

Opening Hike, Parking LotOpening Hike, on Rock in Forest

 

 What a thrill and privilege to wonder Nature’s places new to me. I will return to Bethel Spring… hopefully with a grandkid or two in tow. I am grateful to live in a land blessed with wonders near and far… and with an active Land Trust dedicated to preserving and protecting our natural legacy.

The Land Trust of North Alabama mission is simple, succinct, and noble: The Land Trust preserves land and its legacies for conservation, public recreation, and environmental education to enhance quality of life in North Alabama now and for the future. I urge you to visit the Trust’s website: https://www.landtrustnal.org/vision-history/ Please consider joining and or contributing. 

 

Thoughts and Reflections

 

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are the three succinct truths I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Nature, with the help of the dedicated efforts of a local Land Trust, is identifying, protecting, and preserving natural heritage for tomorrow
  2. Nature’s power to inspire and lift us is unfathomable
  3. We can all do our part to make some small corner of the world better through wisdom, knowledge, and hard work

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire and Reward you!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's BooksHarvest Square

 

My two Alabama grandsons did not accompany me to Bethel Spring Nature Preserve. Instead of them flanking the Bethel Spring Preserve Land Trust sign, I reverted above to the Land Trust’s Harvest Square sign.

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

 

Leafless Tree I.D. Hike along Bradford Creek Greenway

 

February 22, 2020, the North Alabama Land Trust hosted a Leafless Tree I.D. hike along Bradford Creek Greenway in Madison, AL. I remain convinced that learning more about Nature amplifies our commitment to Earth stewardship. Don’t we care more about other humans when we know something (positive) about them, including their names? I believe the same is true of our kinship with the natural world. I was pleased to see some 30 eager-to-learn participants accompany hike leader Dr. Ken Ward, a retired Alabama A&M professor of dendrology, the scientific study of trees. Allow me to observe up front that Ken led the educational tour with distinction!

You might wonder why I, a bachelor-degreed forester with a doctorate in applied ecology, would want to take a three-hour tree identification hike. The answer is simple, even if multi-faceted:

  • I took my one and only dendrology course 51 years ago
  • Six hundred miles north of here
  • I’ve made thirteen interstate moves during my professional career, gaining knowledge many miles wide… and far too shallow
  • The final two decades of my professional pursuits locked me in senior executive leadership roles at seven different universities, relegating dendrology growth to secondary, tertiary, or perhaps even quadrary level — a thing of occasional weekend hikes
  • Although for the past two years I have been resharpening my Nature skills in our north Alabama woods, my blade is rusty
  • I relished the idea of soaking up knowledge from a true local expert
  • Ken did not disappoint!

We walked the trail (paved greenway) on a picture-perfect morning, one somehow lifted from within an otherwise drenched December through February period.

A Glorious Winter Day

 

Land Trust NAL

 

Beyond hosting the hike, the North Alabama Land Trust played a major role in establishing the Bradford Greenway. I borrow these words (and the two photos beneath the two paragraphs) from my January 20, 2020 Blog Post about our local greenways and floods: http://stevejonesgbh.com/2020/01/20/local-greenways-the-blessing-of-urban-floodplains/

I offer another tribute and appreciation to our Land Trust of North Alabama for its partnership in creating the Bradford Creek Greenway and other special places locally. I love the Land Trust’s tagline: “Conservation in Action!” As a former four-time university president, I hold that application adds value to knowledge. Applying knowledge (driven by dedication and passion) brings action to bear. Without applying action to conservation, we as humanity, communities, and individuals practice only a shallow and meaningless conservation inaction. Amazing how removing that one space (between ‘in’ and ‘action’) changes the entire essence. Talking by itself can amount merely to conservation virtue-signaling. The Land Trust gets it done! I applaud its action, guided by a succinct and noble mission: The Land Trust preserves land and its legacies for conservation, public recreation, and environmental education to enhance quality of life in North Alabama now and for the future.

The Land Trust donated a 112-acre easement to the City of Madison (2006) for the Bradford Creek Greenway. The aerial photo shows the property lines (green) and the 2.5-mile trail (red) from Heritage School to Palmer Park. I have spent many hours biking along the creek under its welcome riparian forest cover and shade. A wonderful gift to future generations. We began our Tree I.D. hike at Heritage Elementary.

North AL Land TrustLand Trust of North Alabama

 

 

Here’s Ken (below left) speaking to us at trailside, the riparian forest behind him. Below right he’s pointing out the water tupelo (Nyssa aquatic) along Bradford creek, drawing our attention to the distinctively swollen base, often termed “butt swell.” Water tupelo is happy with wet feet; in fact the species demands it, hence the “water” moniker. Where you find a tree growing (and flourishing) is an important identification diagnostic.

Land Trust NALLand Trust NAL

 

Ken focused on bark and bud characteristics. Black cherry (Prunus serotina) bark varies from its mottled grey (lower left) on younger stems to the finely flaked near-black of mature trees. I know black cherry, the principal species of the Allegheny Hardwood Forests of New York and Pennsylvania where I conducted my doctoral research. Lower right we see white oak (Quercus alba) with its vertically-shredded white-grey bark, which varies little across tree age.

Land Trust NALLand Trust NAL

 

Never reaching beyond the intermediate canopy, Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood; American hornbeam) has an elephant-smooth grey bark, with sinewy muscled stem form. Lichens of various types often accent its bark (lower right). The Carpinus with my leaned trekking pole grows snug against an over-story sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) that towers above it. The musclewood tree, a shade tolerant species, is content in the sweetgum’s shade. In addition to bark, stem structure, and bud characteristics, another leafless tree diagnostic is canopy placement and growth form.

Land Trust NAL

 

Both musclewood and ironwood (Ostrya virginiana; eastern hophornbeam) are common here in northern Alabama, as well in the forests of my doctoral research. Both also speak volumes about the need for learning scientific names, and not relying on common names: consider American hornbeam and eastern hophornbeam! Ironwood has finely vertically-shredded bark, grows straighter than Carpinus, yet likewise occupies the lower and intermediate canopy. both have very dense (hard) wood.

Land Trust NALLand Trust NAL

 

The common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) occurs commonly across the northern half of the eastern US, and does venture into northern Alabama, primarily on upland sites. However, sugarberry (Celtis laevigata) is much more commonly distributed in the southern half of the eastern US. I do not know how to distinguish the two. Each has the diagnostic prominent corky ridges on the grey bark. Because we are in the southern half of the eastern US and on a riparian site, I am leaning toward sugarberry (laevigata).

Land Trust NAL

 

I can’t resist another photo or two of that day’s incredible weather: 35 degrees when we gathered at 9:00 am, rising mid-day to 55 degrees. Where we lived for four years (Fairbanks, AK) on the same day that we hiked here, the temperature rose to a balmy 11 degrees above zero with a two-foot snowpack. A week prior and a week later the highs ranged in the negative 20s! We are winter-blessed here in the Tennessee Valley region of northern Alabama. I suppose we pay our weather dues June through mid-September.

Land Trust NAL

 

In case any of my Fairbanks friends see this Post, here’s one more photo of the group enjoying the winter day!

Land Trust NAL

 

And, one more reflection on our Land Trust 0f North Alabama — a true service to Nature enthusiasts and future citizens across the region. The LTNA mission is simple, succinct, and noble: The Land Trust preserves land and its legacies for conservation, public recreation, and environmental education to enhance quality of life in North Alabama now and for the future. I urge you to visit the Trust’s website: https://www.landtrustnal.org/vision-history/ Please consider joining and or contributing. 

 

Thoughts and Reflections

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are the three succinct truths I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Learning about Nature enhances our understanding of our place in this world
  2. Understanding our place magnifies our appreciation for Nature’s beauty, magic, wonder, and awe
  3. Appreciation of Nature inspires and leverages our passion for Earth stewardship

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire and Reward you!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

That’s Alabama grandson Sam with me below right by a planted longleaf pine at the south end of Bradford Creek Greenway, opposite from the Tree I.D. hike.

Steve's BooksWeaned Seals and Snowy Summits

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

 

 

Local Greenways — The Blessing of Urban Floodplains!

I’ve enjoyed many hours biking and walking along our local Madison, Alabama greenways: Bradford Creek; Mill Creek; and Indian Creek. Note the commonality — each bears a creek moniker. One might assume city planners wanted us to experience the peaceful streamside environment, the gurgle of flowing water, and the shade of the riparian forests. Not a bad assumption. However, other reasons prevailed. Here in northern Alabama’s Tennessee Valley, Nature blesses us with an annual average of 55 inches of rainfall. Our streams overflow their banks several times each year. So, their floodplains are not suitable for residential or commercial development. Five-and-a-half-year-old grandson Sam and I visited Indian Creek and Bradford Creek greenways January 3, 2020. I had measured eight inches of rain over the prior 13 days. That’s roughly 15 percent of our annual precipitation! Light rain continued as we walked. The heaviest rains had fallen the prior evening; the streams had begun to fall.

Indian Creek Greenway

I asked Sam to stand by the Indian Creek Greenway sign. Ever-ready with appropriate armament, he decided to aim back with his trekking pole. Beyond him the trail dips into Indian Creek, flooded impassably.

Local Greenways

 

Seen from the highway bridge above the trail and at water’s edge, the creek gives little deference to the paved greenway. As always, Nature holds sway. We are wise to know and respect her ways. What better application of land use than to dedicate a riparian zone to recreation.

Local Greenways

 

But there is more. Bradford Creek and Indian Creek greenways serve another purpose. Both are rights-of-ways for public sewer lines, a conscience and deliberate effort to place utilities where they do not interfere with commercial and residential development. I accept and applaud the complementary uses of utility right-of-way and recreational corridor. As I pedal I pay no heed to the surface manifestation of the underground utility (photo below from a week later (January 12) along the Bradford Creek trail), the flood waters long since subsided.

Local Greenways

 

Where the water rose above the trail surface, a crayfish scurried across the pavement. Sam and I picked him up, avoided his pincers, said hello, and placed him back into his watery realm.

 

Bradford Creek Greenway

Because Indian Creek was so completely underwater Sam and I drove the three miles or so west to Bradford Creek. Indian Creek was two or three hours past peak flood flow. Bradford Creek is a lower order stream, having reached maximum flow around midnight. Stream order describes the hierarchical sequence of streams within a watershed. Small headwater streams are first order. Their flow peaks while the deluge is falling. Bradford Creek is probably second order, formed from several first order streams draining Madison City neighborhoods. Sam is sitting on and standing by a log that washed over the culvert during the night. The creek has already fallen a couple feet below peak flow. Indian Creek, a higher order stream, was still close to peak.

Local GreenwaysLocal Greenways

 

Stream order classification rises to a high of 12. The lower Mississippi rates a 12. The peak flow at New Orleans may lag several weeks behind the spring dousings and snowmelt that inundated farmlands of the upper Midwest. I wonder, how many Bradford Creek watershed equivalents would it take to furnish the Big River’s flood-flow at its Gulf outlet. And then compare that to the world’s largest volume river, the Amazon. The Amazon carries more volume than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined. It has ten tributaries larger in volume than our Big River. If we could redirect the Amazon’s outlet flood-flow into an empty Lake Ontario basin, the lake would fill in three minutes. As I marvel at the force of Bradford and Indian creeks in flood, I once again feel overwhelming humility knowing that this is nothing to the Amazon and our own Mississippi. All things natural are relative.

 

The Special Magic of Wet Tree Trunks

Forest hydrology stood among my top five favorite undergraduate courses. According to the US Forest Service, Forest hydrology studies the distribution, storage, movement, and quality of water and the hydrological processes in forest-dominated ecosystems. Forest hydrological science is regarded as the foundation of modern integrated watershed management. Our spring-break field trip that semester took us to Hubbard Brook Watershed, a world famous calibrated, monitored US Forest Service hydrological research station deep in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. I felt as though I were heaven-bound as I drove the university van north and east through the Adirondacks toward northern New Hampshire. Spring break at a Florida beach — not for me! I would have traded the Hubbard Brook trip for nothing… neither fame, nor fortune, nor warm ocean breezes.

The forest hydrological system begins in the tree canopy, where raindrops (and snowfall) first meet the forest. Let’s stick with rain. The fate of rain in the canopy: evaporation from twigs and leaves; throughfall to the forest floor; stemflow. Tree crown geometry for many species funnels canopy water along twigs, stems, and branches toward the trunk. A little over three-inches of rain fell during the 36 hours prior to Sam and me hitting the two greenways. This American Beech (Fagus grandifolia), a species with widely-spreading dendritic branching pattern, is particularly skilled in drawing water to its trunk. This one is soaked, every nook and cranny thoroughly wetted. Its bark supports rich communities of algae and lichens, much of it far less visible on dry bark. Sam and I marveled over the beech bark palette of life.

Local Greenways

 

We also saw magic in the beech fingers clinging tightly to the riparian forest floor. Don’t we all cling fiercely…and lovingly…to those things, places, and people we hold dear. Security comes in many forms. I know from my training as an ecologist and soil scientist that all terrestrial life on Earth begins and ends with that fragile layer we call soil. This beech symbolizes our universal dependence on this thin layer of weathering rock, organic matter, rich microbiological life, water, and gas (oxygen, carbon dioxide). Sadly, the vast majority of humanity is excruciatingly oblivious to our need to cherish, tend, and protect our One Earth and its life-sustaining soil. Let this beech teach us to be informed and responsible Earth stewards.

Local Greenways

 

 

A Footnote

I offer another tribute and appreciation to our Land Trust of North Alabama for its partnership in creating the Bradford Creek Greenway and other special places locally. I love the Land Trust’s tagline: Conservation in Action! As a former four-time university president, I hold that application adds value to knowledge. Applying knowledge (driven by dedication and passion) brings action to bear. Without applying action to conservation, we as humanity, communities, and individuals practice only a shallow and meaningless conservation inaction. Amazing how removing that one space (between ‘in’ and ‘action’) changes the entire essence. Talking by itself can amount merely to conservation virtue-signaling. The Land Trust gets it done! I applaud its action, guided by a succinct and noble mission: The Land Trust preserves land and its legacies for conservation, public recreation, and environmental education to enhance quality of life in North Alabama now and for the future.

The Land Trust donated a 112-acre easement to the City of Madison (2006) for the Bradford Creek Greenway. The aerial photo shows the property lines (green) and the 2.5-mile trail (red) from Heritage School to Palmer Park. I have spent many hours biking along the creek under its welcome riparian forest cover and shade. A wonderful gift to future generations.

North AL Land Trust

Land Trust of North Alabama

Thoughts and Reflections

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; with co-author Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are three succinct lessons I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Nothing in Nature is static… from peaceful stream to raging torrent
  2. An urban riparian zone presents both a land use restriction and a wonderful recreational opportunity
  3. Land Trust organizations can be essential partners in conserving Nature close to home

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire and Reward you!

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

 

Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits

Three Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. The books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

Longleaf Pine along Bradford Creek Greenway

Autumn Serenity along Bradford Creek

Hard to believe that this is my last Great Blue Heron Blog Post of 2019, a very fulfilling year for my semi-retirement ventures to spread the gospel of Nature-Inspired Life and Living. This Post returns me to nearby Bradford Creek Greenway.

Our first autumn weather at long last arrived overnight October 11, 2019. Saturday the 12th dawned cloudy with temperature in the upper 40s. I pedaled 19 miles along nearby Bradford Creek Greenway beginning at 7:00AM. So nice to don long pants and my biking jacket, the first time since April that I needed more than my summer gear:

 

Here below are two special images of the creek just off the trail… without the distraction of the old guy in the foreground! What’s so special you might ask. I loved the lighting… dark overcast and deep riparian forest. The placid creek after two-and-a-half months with little rain. The clear water and the leaf-fall lining the sand and gravel bar.

Local GreenwaysLocal Greenway

 

Summer’s New Growth on Planted Longleaf Pine

The Bradford Creek Greenway is an urban sewer line right-of-way, managed as a recreational trail for its 2.5-mile length in Madison, Alabama. Utility crews lifted and increased the line’s capacity over the trail’s southern 0.70-mile length during the summer of 2018. Crews completed the upgrade late summer. Regrading, repaving, and seeding the right-of-way finally permitted biking that south end by early autumn last year. I took the two photos below in December 2018, showing the double rows of planted longleaf pines in a 50-foot wide construction staging area between the trail and an agricultural field. The forester in me cannot resist this opportunity to tell a tree tale (fact… not a tall tale). Read-on below these two images.

 

Longleaf begins its seedling life resembling grass, and sends its first vertical growth candle only after several years. From the Longleaf Alliance website: This stage is an inconspicuous yet unique stage of a longleaf pine’s life history where the seedling resembles a clump of grass more than a tree, hence the name. During the grass stage, the growing tip (bud) of the tree is protected under a thick arrangement of needles at ground level. When fires sweep through, the needles may burn but the tip of the bud remains protected. New needles quickly replace those that were burned off. During the grass stage, longleaf pine seedlings are virtually immune to fire. At this stage, although the tree will not be growing upwards, the seedling will be putting down an impressive root system underground. Also during this stage, longleaf may become infected with a fungus called brown spot needle blight. Brown spot causes the needles to brown, fall off, and hamper growth. Repeated defoliation will cause the seedling to die. The grass stage may last anywhere from one to seven years depending on the degree of competition with other plants for resources. Rare instances of 20 years have been documented.

Here’s my grass-stage photo from a prior outing at one of our Alabama State Parks. The trees in the above December 2018 photos grew at least two summers in nursery transplant beds, evidencing two vertical candles.

 

The photos below are from October 13, 2019. The longleaf seedlings obviously enjoyed a great first summer in their new location. Last summer’s (2018) candles now have the second year needles downcast, preparing to shed them this winter. Longleaf needles perform for just two growing seasons. This year’s growth includes the seedlings’ first lateral branches (see the tuft above last summer’s candle) as well as another vertical shoot. Summer 2020 will see vigorous lateral branching… growing up and out.

 

I’ll try to retake the longleaf pine images every fall to chronicle each subsequent summer’s growth. Photos are unmatched for demonstrating Nature’s dynamic progress. Ten years from now people will not be too impressed if I tell them that I remember when those trees were just planted. But show them the ten-year images. Their eyes will widen and their jaw will drop! Ten years out I picture breast high diameter at 5-7-inches and height at greater than 20-feet. Nothing in Nature is static.

Local Greenway

 

I took the images below a day earlier, October 12, 2019. I often showcase in these Posts my fascination with weather, sky, and clouds. These are the same trees, yet their appearance is radically different, almost night and day. Dense clouds in contrast with deep blue. Which image is more striking? Neither — both are superb. I’ll take Nature’s glory however it presents itself! My ride this morning (October 13) covered 29 miles. Three extended loops, each one further opening my eyes and deepening my fulfillment and satisfaction.

Local GreenwaysLocal Greenways

 

I’ve said frequently that understanding the science magnifies my appreciation and multiplies Nature’s inspiration. The image is only part of the magic. Would it mean as much without knowing about the species’ grass stage and its growth patterns? Clearly not. I see a point in time along a trajectory deep into the future. Nature rewards those willing to believe, look, see, and feel. I am grateful I chose a career and education path that led to understanding and appreciating Nature.

Local Greenways

 

A not-so-pleasant surprise greeted me November 23 when I rode loops on the trail. One of the longleaf pines had died. I had seen no signs of impending demise on prior rides. It is now clearly dead. Cause of death — undetermined. I see no evidence of mechanical stem damage. Nothing has chewed or disturbed the cambium. No obvious stem cankers or signs of fungal infection. Perhaps the seedling had not been well-planted… big air pocket or roots J-shaped (stuffed into the hole so that the longer roots bent back on themselves). During my time (1981-85) as Alabama Region Land Manager for Union Camp Corporation, we planted 16,000 acres annually to mostly loblolly pine. We conducted seedling survival surveys the winter following the first growing season. I don’t recall many sites with greater than 95 percent survival… and none with no mortality. I fought the temptation to pull this one to see whether the cause of mortality was discernible. One fatality out of 16 out-plants is not bad; 94 percent survival. I will continue to monitor, hoping that we lose no more next year and beyond.

Local Greenways

 

A mid-December Postscript

I biked 19 miles on Bradford Trail December 12. The low temperature had reached 28 degrees; the high nudged 55. The average for the date: 35 and 54. The coldest average low and high (mid-January) is 32 and 51. My point? We are enjoying mid-winter mildness here in north Alabama. I enjoy getting out this time of year. I see more now than I can with full foliage. I’ve been bike-cruising Bradford Trail for three years. Yesterday was the first time I’ve noticed this trail-side honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos). Formidably beautiful! My three books include tales of pleasurable terror — stories of times when I’ve been caught in rather scary weather, survived it, and took great memories of withstanding the ferocious onslaught. So, just another of Nature’s many ironies. Pleasurable terror and formidable beauty. Nature is rich with irony.

Local GreenwaysLocal Greenways

 

When I stopped to photograph the thorny specimen, I noticed several sapling buck-rubs, also at trail’s edge.This one will not survive; the buck has stripped cambium 360-degrees. I had hoped to find a cause of mortality as obvious on the dead longleaf — not so.

 

Nature…everyday Nature…fuels my passion and purpose in life. Death is natural. The dance of life and death is ongoing. Everyday Nature, whether we like it or not, includes both death and renewal. Life giving death — yet another of Nature’s ironies.

A Footnote

I love the Land Trust of North Alabama’s tagline: Conservation in Action! As a former four-time university president, I hold that application adds value to knowledge. Applying knowledge (driven by dedication and passion) brings action to bear. Without applying action to conservation, we as humanity, communities, and individuals practice only a shallow and meaningless conservation inaction. Amazing how removing that one space (between ‘in’ and ‘action’) changes the entire essence. Talking by itself can amount merely to conservation virtue-signaling. The Land Trust gets it done! I applaud its action, guided by a succinct and noble mission: The Land Trust preserves land and its legacies for conservation, public recreation, and environmental education to enhance quality of life in North Alabama now and for the future.

The Land Trust donated a 112-acre easement to the City of Madison (2006) for the Bradford Creek Greenway. The aerial photo shows the property lines (green) and the 2.5-mile trail (red) from Heritage School to Palmer Park. I have spent many hours biking along the creek under its welcome riparian forest cover and shade. A wonderful gift to future generations.

North AL Land Trust

Land Trust of North Alabama

Thoughts and Reflections

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; with co-author Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are three succinct lessons I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Nature rewards those willing to look closely, whether in a bucket-list National Park or along a local Greenway
  2. Everyday Nature can amaze and inspire with her stories of magic and wonder
  3. Every element of Nature has a story to tell — whether an entire ecosystem or a single species of tree (i.e. longleaf pine)

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire and Reward you!

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2019 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

 

Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits

Three Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. The books inspire deeper relationship with and care for our One Earth. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

 

 

Revisiting Harvest Square Nature Preserve

Natural Treasures Are Always Close at Hand

I posted an essay in February 2017 on a trip I made to the North Alabama Land Trust’s 70-acre Harvest Square Nature Preserve: http://stevejonesgbh.com/2017/02/09/the-simple-things-become-our-ultimate-pleasure/ My then nine-year-old Alabama grandson Jack accompanied me. Nearly three years ago, at that time I did not always include photos as I do now.

I returned with Judy, Jack (now 12), and five-and-a-half year old Sam November 9, 2019. This time I snapped lots of photos, offering them with reflections in this Post. The photos certainly help me compose my observations and reflections, and assist with memory retention! Jack and Sam stand with me at the entrance sign… shamelessly promoting my three books.

 

Ponds — AKA Borrow Pits

The interpretive “Ponds” sign leaves no room for confusion — these “are not natural ponds.” Minnesota’s state tagline claims, “Land of Ten Thousand Lakes.” My limnology faculty at the University of Alaska Fairbanks reminded me that Alaska has 2,000,000 lakes and ponds! Alabama? Most of our “ponds” and lakes are human-made, including the four-acre Big Blue Lake where I reside. It’s hard to be a pond and lake purist here in the South, far from Minnesota’s 10,000 glacier-carved ponds and lakes. So, I treasure even our Alabama ponds carved by development engineers and excavators.

Harvest Square

 

My appreciation is not dimmed at Harvest Square knowing that Terry and Turner Ponds provided scraped spoils for elevating the construction site for Harvest Square Shopping Center. I spent little time explaining to grandsons Sam and Jack the ponds’ origin. Instead, we focused on the wonder of Nature’s healing such raw disturbed sites. Harvest Square memorializes the inspired action of the Land Trust of North Alabama acquiring the site, protecting it from further perturbation, arranging access, placing interpretive signage, and telling the story of informed and responsible land stewardship. Who would know…and who would second guess…the rehabilitation and rebirth of an evolving natural community following the equivalent of harsh strip-mining. The open meadows, succeeding brush and forest, serene ponds, full array of wildlife, and the stunning beauty of a fall day belie the violence acted upon the land. What absolute genius to convert wasteland to nature preserve!

Harvest SquareHarvest Square

 

Nature has been rehabilitating disturbed land for eons… for-ever! Think of the Mount Saint Helens blast zone from May 1980; devastated… and now green and recovering. The most recent continental ice sheet retreated 12-14,000 years ago after scraping the land clear from Canada through the Great Lakes and into southern New York State — Long Island is a terminal moraine! The Yellowstone caldera last blew 630,000 years ago; it is now among the nation’s most beautiful national treasures. Nature knows full well how to tear asunder… and then heal. What’s a little man-made shopping center construction to Nature’s insistence to rehabilitate and heal?! Throw in a dedicated Land Trust, some trail and dock infrastructure, and limited healing time… and the result meets even my rigid criteria for declaring it a wildland worthy of visiting, studying, and sharing! Who could imagine Judy and the grandsons are nearly within sight of the shopping center?

Harvest Square along Terry Pond

 

Well-placed and attractive signage complements the experience. Toss in the wildness of the great blue heron who lifted from the shoreline near this trail marker to add to our enjoyment.

Harvest Square

 

The trail is aptly named. Beaver occupy bank lodges along Terry Pond’s northwest corner. They’ve constructed ingress and egress canals along the shore. Sam is holding two branches stripped clean of bark/cambium by foraging beavers. Sam uses one as a walking stick; the longer one suits me quite well.

Harvest Square Beaver Canal

 

 

Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is colonizing the preserve, providing colorful fruit, a fall buffet for dozens of bird species.

Harvest Square Preserve

 

We hiked the short trail to Turner Pond and the boardwalk along its west edge. Vegetation is everywhere — Nature abhors a vacuum. Natural reclamation is accelerating. As an ecologist, I know how quickly succession moves these highly disturbed sites into more mature brush and forest stages. I’d like to see the Land Trust establish permanent photo points so that visitors years and decades from now can travel photographically back in time. What will these two views show in 2050? Or 2100?

Harvest Square, Second PondHarvest Square

 

Will the forest behind Jack and Judy tower above visitors 50 years hence?

Harvest Square, Turner Pond

 

We spotted a pair of great blue herons as we left Terry Pond heading toward the woods. I never (and will never) tire of seeing these avatars for my life and my memories of Dad! To see this pair made me ever more appreciative of Nature’s supreme power to heal… the land and my heart.

Woods Trail

The woods trail winds past an already towering loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Good fortune that the shopping center clearing did not strip the entire tract. This is wildness that stirs my forester’s heart!

Harvest Square Preserve

 

The Trust does an excellent job of trail interpretation and tree identification.

Harvest SquareHarvest Square

 

I have observed often that having  an understanding of Nature enhances appreciation and strengthens our resolve to steward the land.

Harvest Square

 

Nothing in Nature is static; nothing lives and stands tall forever. Life and death are in a perpetual dance; ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Wind-throw is as natural as the new growth that will fill the space vacated by this old soldier toppled by a gusty thunderstorm a few summers prior. I think Sam understands the mechanism.

Harvest Square Harvest Square

 

The magnificent loblolly will one day return its mass, fiber, and nutrients to the soil. Death is part and parcel of life. The Harvest Square Nature Preserve is close at-hand to many of us in the greater Huntsville area. Its story is one of disturbance, preservation, and recovery. In so many ways, as I mentioned earlier, the Harvest Square Story ironically parallels the ecological tale told by Mount Saint Helens and Yellowstone. Nature knows how to close the circle; in fact, Nature designed and created the circle.

Harvest Square Preserve

 

If you would like to visit Harvest Square, see the Huntsville Adventurer website: https://huntsvilleadventurer.com/harvest-square-nature-preserve/?fbclid=IwAR18Fyskf-vv0IWzXjMCO3L7mF4VTxHiOOXS1qeExGLG4Pj-MFAdfUcF6xM

The Land Trust of North Alabama mission is simple, succinct, and noble: The Land Trust preserves land and its legacies for conservation, public recreation, and environmental education to enhance quality of life in North Alabama now and for the future. I urge you to visit the Trust’s website: https://www.landtrustnal.org/vision-history/ Please consider joining and or contributing. 

 

Thoughts and Reflections

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are the three succinct truths I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Nature, with the help of the dedicated efforts of a local Land Trust, is converting sows ears to silk purses
  2. Nature’s power to heal (the land and our hearts) is unlimited
  3. We can all do our part to make some small corner of the world better through wisdom, knowledge, and hard work

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire and Reward you!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2019 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's BooksHarvest Square

 

The same windthrow back-dropping Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits! I like to imagine that representative samples of my books appreciate accompanying me into the woods. So far, none has complained nor groaned!

Land Trust of North AL

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. The books inspire deeper relationship with and care for our One Earth. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.