I woke up to a freshly shed exoskeleton and this very green cicada on my sandal outside.

Just a couple of months ago I attended a conference in Baraboo, Wisconsin. To prepare, we were sent readings that we had to complete before the start of the workshop. One of these readings was a short piece called “Backyard Wilds” by David Gessner, which I encourage you to read if you have the chance. Since then, I have had a name to give to the various wildlife experiences that I cross while in town. On a Jordan Creek tour yesterday, we were greeted by a nice sized common snapping turtle; quite a surprise as we stumbled through the dark culvert. Today, a group of home school students met at the Watershed Center and I was able to show them around. We encountered all manner of crayfish, dragonflies, and birds all within a fifteen minute drive from downtown Springfield. These experiences are not difficult to come by; a deer crossing a street, a fox chasing mice through a subdivision. Native plantings certainly encourage these chance meetings, but the observer with a keen eye and ears tuned to nature is sure to benefit without strenuous effort.

I wondered who was more surprised.

Take time this week, as the grass lies wet from late summer rains and animals are stirring in the pre-fall chill, to turn your mind toward those connections, those brief but cherished moments with something wild. I think you’ll find that there is plenty to see right in your own backyard. Thanks for reading.

Rob Hunt, Watershed Center Coordinator

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