Not So Silent Spring

Snowdrops in Collinwood.

I have a dear old friend who lives on a 10 acre farm in Newbury in Geauga County who laughs whenever I say that I live on an oasis near Eden because in actuality I live in the Collinwood section of Cleveland, which my friend feels is overcrowded with questionable safety. 

However, my house has a vacant lot next door where I garden, 3 very tall Spruce trees & a lilac bush in front of my porch and in the backyard, an ancient maple, clematis, grapevines and a mulberry tree with delicious berries.

Twice a day I walk my 3 dogs: small, Bebe, a Sheltie mix; medium, Sunny, a Golden Retriever mix & large, Moosie, a 110 lb. chocolate Lab, only one block past the pool and playground to an unspoiled area behind the football field. This area once had railroad siding tracks on it for the adjoining WWII factories but is now 5-10 acres planted by birds & wind, and perhaps even the RR cars. I am thankful this land has never been "developed" but left wild for wild animals, dogs and people to enjoy.  I have taken many photos back there and hope to create a book entitled Hidden Treasures in Collinwood someday.

Way back in college I read "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson, which has come true in Collinwood as far as the spring peepers are concerned. Redwinged blackbirds still chirr and establish territories from late in February among the phragmities, killdeer call out warnings to their chicks, Canada geese & gulls eat the grass on the football field, and a pair of mocking birds keep us company and entertain us while we are dog walking. Crows are noticeably fewer since the bird flu of several years ago, but a few still caw their warnings to their friends that our dogs and I are coming.

Besides the meadow of wildflowers like Queen Anne's lace, Purple Loosestrife, goldenrod, daisies, and asters, there are wild rose bushes,crabapple &,cottonwood trees, a few young oaks, many black locusts & in a higher area,that once was a parking lot for Nela parks' chemical plant-- and thus the ground is covered with black slag from the coal furnaces-- many beautiful white birch trees thrive. As you can imagine, the black ground with the white trees rising from it is very striking.  Here nest the goldfinches or wild canaries as I like to call them. So the spring is not completely silent, just missing the peep of frogs.

This year when all the rain started I armed (or footed) myself with new boots  as I foresaw the rise of the water in the swampy area between the football field & the RR where I let our three dogs run free. The approximately 1/2 acre of phragmities in the lowest section have been barely holding their own these last few dry years but this year they should thrive. Since there are no more frogs in this area of Collinwood, even though it once was nicknamed "Frogville", I intend to import a bucketful of tadpoles from Geauga Co. marsh on Pekin Rd. to hopefully repopulate the endangered species of spring peepers.

We still have snails aplenty which climb up the very prickery teasel stalks whenever it rains too much or when they have the urge to mate. It seems like an unlikely place for romance but the sexual urge is obviously very strong in snails. But snails are very quiet, so I miss the peep of frogs and hope to hear them this summer in the evenings when the birds have settled for the evening.  

Among other things, Marie Nightingale is a retired librarian, a wife, mother, grandmother, a nature lover, dog walker/trainer, photographer, chess player & writer.

Marie Nightingale

Among other things, Marie Nightingale is a retired librarian, a wife, mother, grandmother, a nature lover, dog walker/trainer, photographer, chess player & writer.

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Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 11:10 AM, 04.04.2011