Nature Notes – Summer 2011

Greg Armstrong Nature Notes Leave a Comment

Ahh, the warm days of summer, when we can go outdoors without the encumbrance of coats, hats and gloves! The growing season for plants is in full swing and birds and bees are busily feeding on the bounty of the season. The exuberance of the prairie is a wonder to see. I guess my favorite time on the prairie is in late July and the beginning of August, because my favorite prairie plants are in flower and it can be breath taking. Prairie dock and black eyed Susan and blazing star all compete for attention from their pollinators, and we are the inadvertent beneficiaries. Of course there are many other plants that flower during the summer, and I would suggest walking the prairie at Holy Wisdom Monastery every week or two, in order to see as many different plants as possible. What a rich experience for both the eye and spirit.

Holy Wisdom Monastery has nearly 100 acres of prairie. I am thankful for the sisters who incorporate care for the earth into their monastic life, and to the soon-to-be-retired Neal Smith who has overseen much of the prairie restoration and management during his 25 year tenure at Holy Wisdom Monastery. They have wrought something quite wonderful with the aid of nature, and have honored God for this marvelous gift of nature. I hope you will visit this beautiful and spiritually uplifting place, and if you have the opportunity, say thanks to the sisters for this good deed.

Lost Lake is an old glacial pond which captures the water from several thousand acres of land in its watershed as it flows down to the sea. At this point, the water is slowed down in the pond where heavy particles suspended in the water can settle out. The cleansing action of the pond and surrounding wetlands are very important to the quality of the water that flows further downstream; first into Lake Mendota then ultimately down to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. This cleaning up of the water is an extremely important ecological service to the water quality in this huge system. Of course Lost Lake is just one small contributor to the water quality in the Mississippi River watershed, but each increment is very important. Over the years, Lost Lake filled with sedimentation from surrounding farms. The sisters had 85,000 cubic yards of silt removed in an effort to restore the functioning of this pond. I am thankful to the sisters for this thoughtful way of caring for the earth!

Come and see the natural beauty of Holy Wisdom Monastery this summer, you will be glad you did.

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