Nature’s Gifts

Andrew, the girls, and I, walked around the lake at Weldon Springs recently, scouting out a trail for our upcoming National Brain Tumor Society Nature Walk. We started at the Chautauqua picnic area where the event is set to take place.


It was a warm, sunny day. A family was throwing a birthday party at the pavilion. Children were laughing as they ran around the playground – their parents working laboriously to make sure the food was prepared, and the party was decorated just right.


We set out down the hill towards the lake. Kendall bent down to pick up a tree branch about her height, the perfect walking stick. Collins instantly picked up her own stick, not really sure why, but knowing sister must be on to something.


The bottom of the hill opened up to the lake. Immediately, Kendall recognized that area as where we fished in the Carol Thompson Memorial Fishing Derby just one month before. As we rounded the corner, we noticed some delicate, white, lacy flowers (of course flowers always catch a girl’s attention) that I identified as a Queen Anne’s Lace before second-guessing myself – maybe they were Poison Hemlock and we better steer clear.


As we trekked on, we looked around the lake for the Great Blue Heron that we often catch resting silently on an old tree trunk in the water. No great blue heron, but in his absence there were plenty of Canadian Geese feeding and honking, keeping us entertained.


Across from us, on the lake, was an older gentleman using mild obscenities while he tried to get his boat to start. As his voice traveled across the water, so did ours – making our presence known. When he got his boat started, he gave us a little wave as he moved on towards the optimal fishing spot.


We stood at the end of the sidewalk before making our way up the steps, back towards the Chautauqua Picnic Area. There, we found a great number of red clover flowers. I picked one and handed it to Kendall, showing her that they are edible. Hesitant at first (“you can eat flowers?”), she picked a petal and popped it into her mouth. Before long she had finished that flower and was giggling while picking another (“you can eat flowers!”).


We were surrounded by dragonflies and damselflies flittering above our heads. A bright blue body on one dragonfly really stood out in comparison to the others. I watched him circle around and then land, before redundantly repeating the process again, and again.


As we started up the steps, there it was behind us. A loud (horrendous, really) squawking moving across the water towards us. Andrew immediately recognized the sound as well, and we watched as the Great Blue Heron disappeared into the tree line, completing our short visit to the lake.


We stopped at the observation deck at the top of the stairs. I ran my fingers along the display that I’m certain my mom created, knowing that she had sat there many times before us. Looking over the water, again, there was no absence of feeding geese. It was then that Andrew pointed out our Great Blue Heron friend, sitting on an old, dead tree watching us as we watched him.


As we headed back to the car, careful not to disrupt the party, I couldn’t help but reflect on the countless gifts that Weldon Springs has to offer. Of course, I also considered all of the gifts my mom bestowed upon me, allowing me to truly appreciate the beauty of nature and the ability to pass that gift on to my children.


“A dragonfly to remind me even though we are apart, your spirit is always with me, forever in my heart.” -unknown


© 2016 Lauren Johnson;

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My name is Lauren Johnson. I’m a momma of four (two littles, two bigs); a wife to the most amazing man in the world - my legit soulmate; a daughter to an incredible woman who fought a brave and devastating fight against a Glioblastoma brain tumor that took her life, and a father who fought vigilantly in the Vietnam War to protect our freedoms; and a friend to so many wonderful people that I love so very much. I have my dream job working with preschoolers, while enjoying summers off with my babes. I love life in general, but more specifically art, children, outdoors, flowers, birds, laughing, reading, learning, adventure and travel.

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