Nothing gets me like a nice day's walk through wooded hills, so when I took my first true-spring tour around the Lowry Nature Center acreage last Friday, I was beside myself with delight. Have you been here? If you're a southwestern Minneapolis metro dweller and you just shook your head no, you have a drive to make, friend, and a set of trails to explore. I mean it.
As a part of the Carver Park Reserve and Three Rivers Park District, the Lowry Nature Center's 250 acres include eight miles of trails, habitats that vary from hardwood forests to tamarack bogs, and a diverse array of wildlife. During my afternoon walk, I was most impressed by the birds. At one point--after I sat down beside a sunny pond and was quiet--I had a white crane fishing for dinner on my left, two Canadian geese touching beaks on my right, five wood ducks flitting nervously atop the water, any number of marsh wrens and black-capped chickadees leaping from one limb to the next behind me, and a red-winged blackbird singing out conk-la-reeee! in the oak branches right above my head. The constant chirping and trilling and tweeting was extraordinary, was an undeniable reminder that spring has arrived with a voice all its own.
The spring ephemerals are up, too: spring beauties on the Oak Trail, hepatica on the Aspen Trail, and on the Tamarack, whole stretches of forest floor green with the beginnings of cutleaf toothwort. Don't worry; that last one sounds pretty awful to me, too, but I promise it's not. Its little teeth-petals are a perfect bright-white, and the only infection it will give is a healthy one: appreciation, a wild contagion that will spread straight through you.