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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Looking for ecosystems

Laura’s fifth grade class expects the living stuff to put in their terrarium/aquarium this week, to have an ecosystem.  Little Miss Can’t Wait to Learn wanted to see some other ecosystems they discussed, so we suggested she go out and turn over rocks and logs and watch the grubs and worms say “What the heck is going on up there?”

That was fun for one morning, and by lunch she needed to expand her horizon.  She absolutely needed to, Aunt Janice.  Laura, Emily, Aunt Jan and Grandma got in the car after lunch and went to a favorite park, Cascade MetroPark.  Probably named for the many cascades in the Cuyahoga River, which flows through the park and curves up to Lake Erie.

Laura, checking the horizon for ecosystems.  We saw two men in kayaks, coming up the river.  At a bend downstream one pulled in at the bank and the other attempted to kayak up a rapid.  The river was very strong and he was spun, dunked and sent back many times.  We realized the fellow against the bank was his spotter, for rescue if required.  We watched his attempts and I ventured the cascade in the middle of the river probably could be navigated, if he wasn’t too tired by now.  Emily explained to me the men weren’t interested in going farther unless the man attempting the rapid achieved his personal best and crested it.  She was correct; eventually they turned and went back downstream.  I need to get with this newthink.

We went on down the path; Jan wanted to show me the steps that go up to a meadow and then back to the parking area.  She and Mom and Poppy2 walked this trail for several years.  The steps were a WPA project in the thirties.  Jan thinks they were built to provide access from a proposed housing development in the valley to factories on the north side of Akron.  People walked part or all of the way to work then.  The housing development was never built, fortunately.  We have a park instead.

The girls were going up before we arrived.  That’s her ecosystem notebook under Laura’s arm.  My mother climbed these steps on a regular basis, when she was only a couple years younger than I.  Jan shouted to the girls to go up the next set of steps and come back through the meadow to the car.  We would go back the way we came. Grandma said, “Humpfh,” and started up.

My cane and I are pretty good at getting around, especially with a hand rail involved.  Then I got to the first landing and looked back down and then at the steps to the meadow.  No handrail.  Sort of like no parachute.  Jan and I went back down, the girls went around.

Back in the meadow we visited the Signal Oak, an almost two hundred year old burr oak. The tree clearly marks the portage trail between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers. These Native American's signal trees are so old; this one has guy wire supports in the branches.

Laura picked up some burr oak acorns, which are as large as they look.  The cap covers her fingers.

When we were on the next to the last road to home I pointed out a deer crossing the road.  She stayed and stared at us as long as we stared at her.

When we got home I presented Laura with my find; a fossil I pocketed on our walk.  A leaf from an ecosystem long, long ago.  I told her she had to put Grandma in her report footnotes.


  1. Great find Grandma!

    No way would I go up those stairs even if I was 20 or so years younger.

  2. She has an active, inquiring mind. Good for her. And good find with the fossil.

  3. Nice.

    We don't have burr oaks up here, I don't think. I would love to stand under one...


  4. Lovely story of your day. I enjoyed all the photos.

  5. What a wonderful day! Thanks for taking me along... and LOVE the photo of Laura at the river.

  6. That is a Bonza park better than a housing development anyday and the leaf fossil was a good find.

  7. What an experience for you and yours! I think I could still manage going up the steps; the coming down part is hard on my knees.

    What gorgeous photos! Could almost inhale the forest air.

  8. Your forest areas feel so different from the ones in the Pacific Northwest where we have mostly conifers, some with qualities of age, but few areas that would hold the reverence of 200 years of living and seeing what has lived. Thanks for sharing.

  9. You scored a footnote in her report. Nice seeing people interested in the nature around them.

  10. Oh, this took me back....nature walks with my Dad who seemed to know what everything was called. We learned to walk quietly and speak in whispers otherwise we wouldn't see anything.
    Jane x

  11. What a beautiful park. Lucky you; to have this nearby!

    Good eye, re the fossil.

    1. Oops, after "lucky you", I didn't mean to type a semi-colon, just a comma :)

  12. Just one small correction, the Burr oak Signal tree is over 300 years old. That's what the sign said in front of it. Amazing!

  13. What a great day. And a good eye on the fossil.

  14. What a lovely walk in the park and I especially like the signal oak, so glad it is preserved so.

  15. I cannot tell you how much I loved this post. The walk through those trees was equisite, the deer and the fossil gave me joy. And those steps filled me with awe. I am pretty certain that they would be beyond me.

  16. Lucky you to find a fossil!
    That's a beautiful park and I like the lovely broad steps, I think I would have liked the challenge of making it to the top. Of course I'd have to take my time about it, no more running up steps for me, and I'd have to check my pocket for an inhaler, just in case.
    The giant oak is just beautiful, I love oak trees.

  17. You mean: Professor Grandma, don't you?! :) Fun walk. I love hearing about the intensely inquiring minds your grandchildren have been blessed with!