Thursday, January 12, 2012

Walking at Brukner Nature Center

I walked at Brukner twice this week.  Brukner's  trails tend to go up and down hills. I hike because I like being alone outside in an unspoiled bit of nature but also because I would like to lose a few pounds.  I think I use a few more calories walking up and down hills than I do on trails which are mostly flat. (Much of this part of  Ohio is relatively flat.)

I started down Short Step Hill.  As I neared the bottom, I noticed the limbs of a Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis L.)  parallel to the trail and a tree further down broken off about ten feet up.

This tree beside the little creek that flows down to the Stillwater River had been standing since long before I began volunteering at the nature center thirty years ago.  For many years, woodpeckers have been working on it.  I often pointed out their holes to children I was leading on a hike.

When I reached the stump, I took a photo of the base of the fallen section.  It was hollow just as the remaining stump was.  The creek must have risen after it fell because there was a little collection of rocks and stones in the fallen section.

Nearby, I found sycamore leaves with their distinctive hollow petioles or leafstalks.  Usually the children call them stems.

A bit further down the trail, I found a bit of sycamore bark.  This  piece reminded me of an eye.  Often the pieces of bark which fall off the tree as the tree expands in diameter are larger. 

I continued on toward the little swamp, hoping to see Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)  emerging.  I walked my usual way along the boardwalk that crosses the floodplain but I had to turn back.

I climbed the trail to reach the swamp from the other side.  And there I discovered that another huge tree that has been there for over a hundred years had fallen.  Many hikers had used its trunk to steady themselves as they started down the steep slope to the swamp. 

Down in the swamp, I found what I was looking for...Skunk Cabbage.  Skunk cabbage doesn't stink if you simply notice it but...if you break any part of it you will understand why it is called "Skunk".  I've been told that the flowers of the skunk cabbage smell good.  None of the open spathes were  near enough to the path for me to test what I've been told. 

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Have a good day.


  1. Goodness you have unfrozen water and something almost green!! I hope you go back and check out that skunk cabbage again! :)

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