We truly were in the presence of wonder! We were two dear friends taking a walk in one of the loveliest of places on a hot summer day. The Morton Arboretum is glorious to behold any day of the year. A hot, humid August day was no exception.
In the bright, morning sunshine, we meandered along the Conifer Walk pausing often to enjoy the cool shade and admire these beautiful cone-producing trees.
Conifers have long inspired writers, poets, artists, and songwriters.
In his epic poem, Evangeline, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote,
“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks…
stand like druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic.”
Pines inspired Woodnotes II, as Ralf Waldo Emerson wrote,
“Who leaves the pine-trees, leaves his friend,
unnerves his strength, invites his end.”
Lord Voldemort, the main villain in the Harry Potter books, carried a wand of yew.
Author J.K.Rowling said the properties of yew matched his character ~
long-lived and poisonous.
I’ve always been drawn to pine trees. They bring back such sweet, childhood memories of visiting my great uncle, a forest ranger, in northern Wisconsin. He grew pine trees all over his wooded, country property, gifting small ones to my grandparents and parents to plant in their own gardens. As we grew taller, so did our beautiful pine trees.
Imagine my joy, years later, when I first saw a cozy, little bungalow with a swing on the front porch AND two towering pine trees in the yard! My heart told me that it should be my own ‘home sweet home.’ Pines always fill me with the presence of wonder…
Whenever I walk among the trees, I just love to reach up and touch their leaves. The soft, feathery leaves of this tree felt so friendly and welcoming to my touch. A nearby sign brought both very happy and terribly sad news… This lovely tree is the ‘Dawn Redwood.’ Oh, the wonder of discovering that one of my favorite trees at the arboretum shared my name!
Very sadly, the ‘Dawn Redwood’ tree is critically endangered! “Forty million years ago, the ‘Dawn Redwood’ was the most common sequoia in North America. Today, only about 1,000 remain in the wild, and they all live in one remote area of China. Those few remaining trees are disappearing as forests are cleared to create farmland.” The sign also explained, “In China, extensive seed collecting is hurting this tree’s ability to reproduce. The Chinese consider this tree second only to the panda, as a conservation icon.” Fossils date the ‘Dawn Redwood’ trees back to the days of the dinosaurs.
One way that we can all take action is to contact our local arboretums or botanic gardens to learn whether any ‘Dawn Redwood’ trees grow in our own communities. “Learning to identify endangered trees is fun, and education is key to changing behavior.”
The presence of wonder was all around us, as we followed the path along Meadow Lake. The wildflowers were abuzz with busy bees and fluttering butterflies.
The presence of wonder was all around us as we lingered at Wonder Pond, admiring the gorgeous weeping willow trees, and all of the plants that thrive in and around the stillness of the pond.
The tall plants along the edge of the pond offered shelter and rest stops for dragonflies. Illinois is home to nearly 100 kinds of dragonflies. We spotted one right away! Look closely into the tall plants and you can see a Widow skimmer dragonfly at rest.
We walked on to the Children’s Garden, with its amazing natural wood and rope bridges for climbing among the trees, and child-friendly water features. This award-winning, four-acre garden, is celebrating its 10th birthday this year. What a popular place for children of all ages to grow and experience the presence of wonder!
Colorful perennial gardens also attracted children, parents, grandparents, nature lovers, and of course, lots of pollinators on that hot August day!
We were also treated to some whimsy of the man-made variety, at the Morton Arboretum. LEGO artist, Sean Kenney and his creative team spent over 4,170 hours and used 464,770 LEGO bricks to create and assemble 27 sculptures, throughout the arboretum. Visitors were in awe of Kenney’s skill and artistry with LEGOs!
The ‘Nature Connects‘ exhibit
of Art with LEGO bricks, by Sean Kenney,
will be on display at The Morton Arboretum through November 1, 2015.
‘Nature Connects’ is an important reminder that “nature’s building blocks ~ trees, plants, insects, birds, animals, and people ~ depend on all of the other ‘pieces‘ to construct a healthy planet.”
A day at the Morton Arboretum truly inspires reflection
on the ways we are all connected by nature,
and the responsibilities that we all share.
at the Morton Arboretum!
“Trees need our help more than ever before.”
Hope you will stop to visit this special place…
in person, or online!
Wishing you a wonder-full day!
P.S. What kind of trees hold a special place in your heart?