Get Yo Green On Tuesday - Oak Savannah Prairie - A Day To Remember
Posted Feb 19 2009 5:32pm
Near my home in Illinois, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) exists on hundreds of acres and is considered unique because the site contains most of the major types of ecosystems representative of the Midwest. These include tall grass prairie, oak savanna, agricultural fields, woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands. It is a great place to take a child to experience nature up close.
One perfect late summer day last year I drove my youngest daughter over to Fermilab with my mother-in-law. I drove as far out into the prairie as I could on an unpaved path and stopped near a stand of old oaks, some over 100 years old. We spent a remarkable afternoon wandering around the old oak trees. If you looked to the sky - nearly 40 feet up - you could see a canopy of leaves with dappled sunlight dancing through the shapes.
If you looked down beneath your feet you could see litter from the trees and prairie. There were seeds of all sorts if you knelt on your hands and knees and nosed about. My favorite moment was when my little girl held up a handful of burr oak acorns and asked me what they were. Grandma took over and told her all about their growth cycle, what they meant to the ecosystem, how they grew, and how she played with them when she was a child. My daughter asked why people were sometimes called “tree huggers.” I told my girl about how the term “tree huggers” was sometimes intended as a negative. It is true that not everyone believes the prairie and forest should be saved. The special prairie and trees we were standing next to were some of the last in the region due to land development. Her little eyes sparked up, and without saying a word, she went to the nearest Oak and wrapped her arms around it and hugged tight. Expressing clearly what nature meant to her. What a memory.
We enjoyed an Indian Summer moment as the sun beat down on our shoulders and we walked farther out through the prairie. Wind blew and we could hear the whisper of grass blowing. Seed heads full of their autumn harvest, shook and trembled when we walked past. Insects twirped and flew as our shadows passed by. Truly a day to remember.
When was the last time you took your children or family out into nature? Get yo’ green on and do it today – make a difference in their lives.