I have not taken my camera to the DuPage River Greenway this month; I’ve been waiting to photograph parts of it covered with a white blanket. Thus far, everything looked about the same as it did in November.
Maybe I was a little like the child who isn’t satisfied with what he or she receives. The Greenway is a treat regardless of the weather and how much it has or hasn’t changed from last month. At least it hasn’t been slippery underfoot! Nature gives what it gives, and I should have been more thankful for what was there, instead of waiting for a good snowfall to turn everything a glistening white to tote my camera along.
Since I did not photograph the Greenway this month, I decided to take a virtual walk through the first eleven months of 2012, sharing some pictures I’ve taken this year that I did not post on “Walking with Nature.”
In January, the footing was treacherous, but there was much beauty to be seen. On such a day, a hiker should always have a companion—or at least a cell phone that can be used to call for help in case of a fall. I like the January photo in part because of the reflections on the water where ice had melted. Photographing the roadway, I got a picture of trees.
In February, the roadway was mostly clear, but there was still ice and snow among the trees. The part of the Greenway shown here is rather marshy and is wet much of the year.
March was warmer than normal in Bolingbrook. Spring beauties bloomed by mid-month; green sprang up among the grasses, and robins made their appearance. By April 3, frogs were croaking at Hidden Lakes, though they generally jumped into the water and out of sight before I could focus on them. The one I did capture was hiding in a hole in the ground. Evidently it felt safe in that confined space. The log where I’d photographed a yellow bellied slider sunning itself in March now held a whole family of turtles. When I moved a little closer, they slid off the log and vanished under the water. The woods were full of wildflowers.
By May, taller plants were shading the Dutchman ’s breeches and many other early spring flowers, ending their blooming season. Other wildflowers took their turn brightening the Greenway. Butterflies and dragonflies dropped by to enjoy the environment. In June, I concentrated my photography on the area near the wetland portion of the Greenway, where water lilies were in bloom and herons flew in to look for lunch.
In July I caught this white cabbage butterfly exploring a thistle bloom, as another insect flew in for a look (and some nectar). In the grass, a northern flicker rested for a few minutes.
In August, the river was calm. On a sunny day, the water reflected the trees, making the Greenway even greener.
In September, a grasshopper posed for me, showing off his stripped leggings. It is a little harder to see the chevrons on the side of his leg, but they are there. These markings identify this specimen as a differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis). These grasshoppers can be a real pest for farmers, but, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, “They are an important component in the food chain for many animals, including foxes, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, amphibians, lizards, snakes, birds, turtles, bats and many predatory spiders and insects” (http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/differential-grasshopper).
By mid-October, some of the trees along the Greenway were turning golden or red, though many were still green. By November 15, though, squirrels’ nests became clearly visible in the mostly leafless trees. Some of the oaks (as in the picture) and beech, though, held tightly to their leaves. Botanists call the retention of dead leaves “marcescence.” If you are interested in this phenomenon, see http://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/why-do-some-leaves-persist-on-beech-and-oak-trees-well-into-winter.
Each season of the year gives the DuPage River Greenway its own beauties and interesting treasures. I’ll be back on the Greenway from time to time in 2013, but I plan to write at least once a month about the Gateway Wetlands, a different ecosystem nestled within the bounds of Bolingbrook. Walk with me!
© Wilda Morris