November Soup & Walk by Julianna Pax, volunteer

We were gifted with beautiful sunny weather today in the low 60’s. Mary Jo introduced the group to Adkins Arboretum and I shared the theme for today. We were going to look at the woods and meadows as an animal hunting for food would. Any kind from one that crawls on the ground to one that can climb trees or some that can fly to the treetops. Earlier I had heard much turkey gobbling so some of the fliers might stick to lower levels since the turkeys are a bit heavy.

Mary Jo left with half the group and my group walked to the wetlands first and took a look at the viburnum berries by the visitor center. The cypress cones were visible as well as juniper (red cedar) berries colored a beautiful blue on a female tree near the bridge. We then headed toward the woods and took note of the seeds available on the big bluestem, Indian grass and little bluestem. I told the story of the ice fishermen who like the goldenrod galls that house a little worm that they can use for bait.

In the woods we found some hickory leaves but not nuts and oaks leaves from both the white and red oak family. We did see a few acorns but many more acorn caps. Ann R had found some hickory nuts with and without husks last week. She gave them to me and I was able to show them along with some black walnuts, pecans and hicans after the luncheon.

Walking from the upland trail with the hickory and oak trees to the pine forest, we considered the type of food that the pine cones provided. Owls can nest in the pine trees and from this cover can readily find food in the oak and hickory area because their acorn and nuts draw mice, squirrels and other small critters. I had read recently in Joan Maloof’s book “Teaching the Trees” that the mast year for acorns and nuts promotes lots of mice and squirrels and this generates more owls and that owls can eat the bagworms that plague some areas. Very interesting, this communal effect.

Later on the trail the big fallen tree was quite interesting and it had several pools of water around the trunk. We speculated on how this singular event of a large fallen tree might give us much to watch and think about in the future months with the canopy opened up and the root ball sticking way up in the air. What kind of wild flowers might this promote? Or what kind of food for wildlife? The beech tree close by had many beech drops still showing and we talked about the community that this tree might support.

Finally we arrived for the soup luncheon which was delicious and all 31 guests and 7 volunteers enjoyed the sixteen bean soup, orange walnut salad, anadama bread and apple cranberry crisp dessert. There was interest in the oak identification book for the eastern US that I brought and some are going to see if they can find a copy. In the meantime I offered to copy the foldout pages that showed many white oak and red oak leaves and have them available at the Feb soup & walk. I also mentioned our new Sat program Tea in the Trees which Lynn L and Michele W are starting on the first Sat of the month starting in Feb.

My super volunteers are Mickey B, Pat B, Zaida W, Shirley B. Also, Norma Jean E and Mary Jo K who also brought dessert. Cathy, Buck and Paul also helped with the setup. Many thanks to all of you. We could not do this wonderful event without all your help. Many guests said they thoroughly enjoyed our soup & walks and plan to come again and again. Some are already signed up for Feb Mar and April. Thanks again. Julianna P

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