Here it’s Earth Day and I’m stuck at the computer all day, instead of out at Midewin enjoying “Picnic for the Planet.” Today, all over the world, people are gathering at their favorite nature areas “to celebrate the planet we live on…to enjoy good food in the company of great people.”
Fortunately, tomorrow I’ll be out at Midewin to continue the Earth Day celebration (why shouldn’t it go on all year) by pulling garlic mustard; one of the conservation world’s Most Wanted Out of our Woodlands invasive species.
Until tomorrow, however, I’m still able to get a bit of nature fix. Working at home, I take the occasional break in my own little private nature sanctuary – my backyard. It’s only about the size of my living room, but my backyard garden is chock full of different kinds of native plants, many of them pushing up through last year’s leaf litter.
Around the pond, it’s easiest to pick out prickly pear cactus, which is abundant in the Calumet area in which I live. The paler green serrated edge spikes of rattlesnake master are easy to ID, too; as is prairie drop seed, which a friend has nicknamed Cousin Itt for its mounded shagginess. I’m able to identify the re-emergent black-eyed Susans, spiderwort and goldenrod largely because I know where I planted them.
The leaves of columbine – one of the earlier bloomers of the season – are distinct for their ternately compound (divided into groups of 3 leaflets) leaves.
And in the pond, the bulrushes and cattails are pushing up spikes. But it’s the marsh marigold that is the most delight – the only blossoms yet in the garden; a buttery yellow that puts lowly daffodils to shame.