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When I was a teenager, I used to hike constantly. Most of the time, I would take the 45 minute trek to Shaw Nature Reserve. It was my haven, my safe place away from home. I would hike for hours at a time, logging my longest hike as 10 miles in one day.
It is still around, and still has everything a hiker could want. A restored prairie, wetlands, steep hiking down to the Meramac River, bluff views, and many other features.
As I was walking along a trail one day, sunlight filtering through the trees, I came across what I thought were shadows playing across the dirt like they so often do. Instead, upon closer inspection, there were what I remember to be at least a hundred small butterflies sunning themselves. Their wings were moving slowly and it looked to me like they had all just come out of their chrysalis', drying themselves off in the sun.
It was gorgeous, inspirational, the thing you may only see once in a life time. Those little yellow wings moving so slowly right across my path.
I walked around them slowly and stared. It was amazing.
I can only hope that both of my boys have at least one experience like that in their lives. Shaw is one of those places that not only protects wildlife, but where they seek to preserve it and invite as many things as possible to the land.
In the wetlands, in one of the places they encouraged growth, the frogs croak and chirp continually while the dragonflies dart here and there. In the pine forest, the wind blows and makes a gentle sound while the trunks sway gently. In the prairie, in July and August, the sounds of locusts and cicadas are deafening, but absolutely beautiful.
My boys need that nature and beauty. They need to know how to appreciate it, and they will. Some of the most important and inspiring things in my life are in nature. The smell of fallen leaves in the fall, the smell of rain in the spring and summer, freshly cut grass, the smell of the river rushing by... They will know these things as I love mother nature and all she has to offer.