Nature Notes with Our CMH Naturalist
April 27, 2015
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. ~Loren Eiseley
This week the students of CMH will be exploring the large pond on the CMH grounds. With nets, buckets, hand lenses, field guides and checklists they will find what plants and animals live in the watery habitat right outside our school building.
This would not be possible had it not been for Margy Knollman, a beloved CMH teacher, who passed away unexpectedly in November of 1989. In the mid-70s, when our school was only a few years old, she began teaching at CMH and developed the Elementary Program. Her vision and dream for our school was to enhance the outdoor learning environment with woodland paths, gardens, and water features that children could use to learn about nature. Upon her passing the CMH community came together to gather donations and by the Spring of 1991 excavation of the large pond was underway. A memorial ceremony was held on the grounds to honor Margie when the work was completed.
This week during Nature Study the children will find tadpoles, waterstriders, whirligig beetles, pond lilies, arrowhead, damselfly nymphs, and other life that only can be found in a pond. Due to the vision of a teacher and the work of our school community, they will discover the magic of water in a pond right here on our campus.
~ Veronica Brannen
April 13, 2015
This past Saturday as I was driving up O’Bannonville Road to CMH for the Spring Beautification Day volunteer event, I couldn’t help smiling at the sight of the showy blooms in the trees in yards lining the way: Saucer Magnolia, Star Magnolia, Plum, Serviceberry, Pear, and Redbud. I felt darn lucky to catch this sight on this sunny day since the delicate blossoms are so fleeting. The petals drop to the ground days or even hours after opening, to make way for fruit and seed production and for leaves to grow and get to work providing the tree with its food.
Gathering tools and work gloves, I made a mental list of the possible jobs for the volunteers for the day. I also took note of the young trees at the front of the campus and along the driveway. Most of these trees are too young to be so showy in bloom or bear fruit, planted by each CMH graduating class, each marked with a plaque of the 6th grade students names and their year. On the newest addition planted last May by the Class of 2014, a Butterfly Magnolia displayed 10 huge unopened flower buds of the palest yellowish green petals on its young branches. I wondered when they might bloom and if I’d be so lucky to catch that special day.
I was given another reason to smile on Saturday when 13 CMH families came to help dig, weed, tend, plant, trim, haul, and enjoy the blooms, sunshine, blue sky, and the community of the Beautification Day.
Today is Monday and I’m back on campus.
More smiles: I see the Butterfly Magnolia is in full bloom.
~ Veronica Brannen
March 25, 2015
"The air and the earth interpenetrated in the warm gusts of spring; the soil was full of sunlight, and the sunlight full of red dust. The air one breathed was saturated with earthy smells, and the grass under foot had a reflection of the blue sky in it."
- Willa Cather
As we finish up this week of school, all of us look forward to the upcoming Spring Break and taking some time to shake off winter and welcome the warm season. This is a great opportunity to visit the CMH campus and surrounding trails to see the quiet fresh beauty of early spring. Breathe in the cool air and smell the newly thawed soil that is dotted with puddles. Listen to the call of peepers, chorus frogs, and soon the American Toad that reaches to your ears from the ponds and vernal pools. Gaze at tree buds that seem to swell and unfold before your eyes, of dogwood, pawpaw, hickory, sassafras, and apple. Watch wrens, titmice, mockingbirds, and cardinals, grab at pine needles, last years leaves, and dried grasses, to take to their nest-building sites.
Enjoy the best of this fresh season, the earthy smells, and the return of green grass.
~ Veronica Brannen