Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Spring Walks
Nature Bulletin No. 111   April 12, 1947
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation

Spring is here. Get out into the forest preserves and enjoy it. Wild ducks are stopping on their northward night to rest and feed in the ponds and sloughs. You will hear the shrill singing of the spring peeper and cricket frogs. The robins, bluebirds, meadow larks, flickers and redwing blackbirds are here, and every day new birds appear. By the middle of April, some of the early wildflowers should be blooming on sunny slopes; by May the woodlands will be carpeted with blossoms.

Wear stout walking shoes and heavy socks without holes or wrinkles. Wear old clothing but not too much, the outer garments preferably of hard smooth cloth, such as khaki or denim, that last year's burs and weed seeds can't cling to. Don't load yourself with equipment. Travel light. If you have a small knapsack, all right.

Otherwise just stick a couple of sandwiches and a candy bar in your pocket, sling your binoculars and small camera around your neck, if you have them, and let it go at that.

Get out in the country and walk. But take your time. Be curious. Try eating the tender blades of green grass, and wild garlic and wild onion. Chew a leaf from a big pear-shaped bud of a shagbark hickory and taste the pungent nutty flavor. Stop and examine the wildflowers. If you have a hand lens or a small reading glass, you will find a wealth of delicate colors in the heart of a wildflower that otherwise you miss.

Walk quietly. Be Alert. You may see a pair of birds flitting ahead of you, or a squirrel nibbling on buds in the top of an oak. Freeze! If you have binoculars, raise them gradually to your eyes; if you have to move for a better view, do it very slowly and softly; animals are alarmed by sudden movements. Should you come to a hidden valley with a small stream, a pond, or a slough, choose a good spot and sit down. Don't move. Presently the frogs will resume their singing -- first one and then another. A muskrat may appear. A turtle may raise its head. Birds will come from all directions. Insects will crawl in the grass and dart through the air.

Relax and think about how good it is to be alive.

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