Posts made in April, 2016

Of Frogs, Fairytales, and Photographs

By on Apr 21, 2016 in Nature, Steuben County Indiana, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Imagine a world like no other hidden in plain view right in Steuben County’s own backyard. McClue Nature Preserve sits unassumingly on the side of a quite county road, but step onto one of the three trails and a fantasy starts to take shape. Families with elementary age children and photographers alike will immediately see the magic.   Giant uprooted trees on Tulip Trail reach toward the sky like moss covered monsters while others form an arch welcoming visitors deeper into the woods. Before you reach the makeshift gable the whispers of birds and frogs call you in. Around the bend, one of many ponds is visible. The inhabitants grow quiet for a moment, but if you’re still, it won’t take long for the peepers and wood frogs to sing. Wood frogs, by the way, sound like quacking ducks. And if you’re really lucky, you might hear the deep croak of a bullfrog.   Further down the path there are choices to make as the trail splits first between Tulip and Juniper (a the intermediate trail) then later between Juniper and Long (the longest trail). But don’t worry, they’re all just a big loop that bring you back to the parking lot.   Along the way, you’re bound to hear woodpeckers and hawks, or see some of the ground-dwelling tenants such as the opossums, deer, and a flock of turkeys. Then there are the other locals that you never quite see, but are almost sure are there. If you look closely enough and have a good imagination, it all begins to make sense. Tiny fungi steps wrap up the sides of many trees, braided vines form bridges overhead, and hollow logs look suspiciously like a small houses!   Follow Juniper Trail deeper still and you’ll come to a set of lovely benches—one old and moss-covered the other new. In the little clearing beyond them is an old- fashioned red water pump. Just one pump is enough to refill several water bottles from the cascade of the refreshing stream.   Early morning light filters through the trees perfectly as does the sun of golden hour (right before sunset) making for ideal shooting conditions all year round. All the photos in...

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Pokagon’s Pride and Joy

By on Apr 11, 2016 in Nature, Steuben County Indiana, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The year was 1938. FDR was president and folks in Indiana were trying to recover from the Depression as well as a long drought. Many unemployed, unmarried men from relief families joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to get back on heir feet again. In Steuben County, Company 556 of the CCC was assigned to Pokagon State Park. Roger Woodcock, who’d joined the group two years before was on the crew that was sent to work toward the back of the park, just past what is now area 5 of the campground. His crew’s task was to build a new rock shelter. They hadn’t been working long when some of the men noticed water bubbling up from the ground. It turned out to be an artesian well, full of fresh, sweet, clean-tasting water. Delighted, the men put a pipe into the natural spring to keep the water continuously flowing. Artesian wells are found all over the world. They occur when permeable material like sand and gravel or porous stone is sandwiched between two impermeable layers of rock or clay, which then squeeze the middle layer like a sponge. That forces the water to the surface without the use of a pump. The formation is similar to a geyser, minus the heat. They wells get their pure taste because the water is naturally filtered through a layer of gravel on its way down to the water table. Roger Woodcock was quoted as calling the spring the workers’ “pride and joy.” Today the never-ending stream of water still flows next to the aptly named Spring Shelter. Just like the CCC men of long ago, visitors to Pokagon can enjoy a fresh, cool sip from the spring or be serenaded by the flowing water as they picnic in the nearby shelter. The spring is tested often, but never treated and the water is free. Blog written by Erika...

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