Fabulous afternoon hike in the UW Arboretum today with Eagle, Eagle’s good friend and their friend’s mom. The weather was perfect for a brisk walk, about 50F (10C). We started out near the Arboretum visitor center, where a turkey greeted us.
Eagle was keen on walking to the Big Spring. We checked the map near the front door of the center and headed off north toward Lake Wingra. Our path led us through the Longnecker Horticultural Gardens (the purple area on the lower center of the map.) We were surprised to see reblooming lilac bushes there, both white and purple flowers! From there we wound our way on foot to the Wingra Springs Parking Lot.
Past the gardens and parking lot were trails that led us through Wingra Woods where several effigy mounds still stand, placed there many hundreds of years ago by the ancestors of the Ho-Chunk Nation in honor of the springs. The mounds are hard to see this time of year under the leaves. (no photos this time)
Lovely Wingra Woods! I am fascinated by the lacy leaves against the sky, especially this time of year.
Once we were this close to our destination, Eagle began to dash along the foot path toward the water. They remembered the way from previous school trips to the “Arb.”
When we reached our goal, I had a realization. I have seen this water source many times, but from the other direction! If you remember the ducks on a log photo from earlier this year, that was taken on the creek beyond the spring in this image above. Eagle was clamoring to step into the water today, but I figured the signs saying “Do not enter. Sensitive habitat” were there for a reason. To avoid temptation, and since we’d already hiked an hour, we headed back toward the visitor’s center. The leaves we encountered on the way were tremendously beautiful. Happy exhale. I am very thankful we have natural spaces in our city. They refresh my spirit.
Just as we reached the parking lot, this plant came into view. Our first sighting of beautyberry; it seems quite aptly named!
Back at home, thinking about the effigy mounds and the sacred springs, I had a new thought. What if one of the greatest lessons that the First Peoples can teach us is gratitude; appreciation for the earth and her resources. What would happen if we thanked the earth aloud for the water and food we consume, that we require to live? Would we begin to hold sacred the resources we’ve taken for granted? What are your thoughts?