by John Hermann
Land Trust preserves are magnetic in the way they pull at me. At Heins Creek, the morning light through the pines always appears new and different than it does in any other place. Similar feelings arise as I walk in the dappled afternoon light at the Bay Shore Blufflands’ escarpment, through the woods, and above the limestone outcroppings. The dense, stately forest of Lautenbach Woods Nature Preserve and the meadow at Oak Road Nature Preserve—both aglow with delicately and intensely colored wildflowers—bring quiet contemplation.
I volunteer to groom Land Trust trails, and as I do, it leads me to the unique characteristics of each nature preserve and to interpretation of nature for future hikes. It always pleases me to tell the story of the Niagara Escarpment, in human as well as geological time. To see the “light bulbs” come on—as hikers ask questions and offer their personal insights—is fulfilling. It is a joy to watch hikers come upon a field mouse, tail up, chasing across the trail or the rare sighting of a western fox snake. Bluebirds in April or a nesting pair of sand hill cranes—now that is special!
Hikers are my guests—locals and visitors, grandparents, parents and children. With preparation, my hope is to leave them with some new insight or appreciation of nature as observed during the hike.