The thing I love most about the arrival of Spring is just getting out and breathing in the fresh air. In Nebraska the winters always seem long and confining and the older I get the longer they seem. Last week we were blessed with a beautiful spring day with temps in the 70’s and I took full advantage. I went out and did some hiking at Fontenelle Forest located in Bellevue Nebraska, on the south edge of Omaha. Fontenelle Forest is one of the largest deciduous forests in Nebraska at close to 2,000 acres. According to the website” Fontenelle Forest is listed as a National Natural Landmark and a National Historic District by the United States Department of the Interior, and the State of Nebraska officially designates its upland and lowland forests as ‘very rare’ ecosystems” It is indeed a beautiful place to hike, bird watch and breathe in some fresh air. There is a 1 mile wooden boardwalk that is easily accessible for all ages and provides stunning views of the Missouri river. For the more ambitious there are many dirt hiking paths that allow a variety of options for those who want to explore the forest more thoroughly. The center provides guided maps that describe each trail and its length and terrain.
The rangers list what birds and animals have been sighted at the beginning of the trail. I could hear many birds chirping but my eye is not trained to spot them so I only caught a few glimpses. (I will work on this skill) I could hear the woodpeckers and a little boy about 3 years old asked me as I was walking if I knew where ” that woodpecker was?” He must have thought I looked like I knew something important but I just smiled and told him that I couldn’t find him either but he sure sounded loud! I am anxious to get back out on the trails and to watch spring unfold. The weekend did not cooperate as it was rainy and then snowed. The much needed moisture was welcomed though. The tiny bits of green that were attempting to peek out will become larger and the trees will soon leaf out. The bleak browns of winter will be replaced and life will once again be colorful and lively.
Ah Spring… welcome!
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree of a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.