Kimberley Roll is an excellent nature photographer. She has shared her photographs from her October hikes at the Limberlost Wetland Preserve and the Loblolly Marsh Nature Preserve.
Wood ducks in flight.
Turtles catching some sun on a warm October day.
Male bluebird. We will have some bluebirds stay all winter and others will migrate south.
Deer at the Loblolly Marsh Nature Preserve.
Lesser yellowlegs migrate through Limberlost in October.
Bald Eagle surveying his territory.
Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve: Miller's Pond on the Jay County side.
Cormorant. They are now summer residents at Limberlost.
Great Blue Heron
Bald eagle in flight.
Northern Leopard frog
Northern Harriers are back for the winter. Randy Lehman and Curt Burnette first spotted them on October 5 at the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve.
Canada Geese. October is a month of migration at Limberlost.
Collaborative Poems from Participants in Shari Wagner's 9-25-2019 Workshop for Kids.
"Among Sights, Sounds, and Silences: A Writing Workshop"
LOBLOLLY MARSH INVITATION
See the grass in the distance
moving the way a cat
sashays side to side.
Watch the geese flying over,
an arrow that leads us
into the prairie.
Hear the flock's babble, laughing
at us, and the honking
of its clown horns.
Listen to the crickets' chirp
and chatter, high-pitched
jingle bells in a cicada choir.
Smell the gold in the goldenrod.
Touch its corn-like tassels
complimented in September
by purple asters' royalty. Feel
beebalm between your fingers
like the crinkling of tinfoil.
Come to Loblolly Marsh
like a monarch
riding the waves of the wind.
THE SHAGBARK HICKORY
is a rough man
with a shabby beard
and leathery clothes.
His one good eye
is a swollen knot.
through the holes
in his pockets.
He waves his hands
to the toad at his feet.
THE BUTTERFLY WING
It was by a lot of asters
and laying on the path,
orange and black and white.
I walked with it for a minute.
It made me happy
like a gift.
Shari Wagner, Indiana Poet Laureate 2016-17, conducted a poetry workshop at Limberlost on Saturday, October 12. The day started with a hike led by Limberlost Naturalist Curt Burnette at Rainbow Bend Park. A place that Gene Stratton-Porter called Rainbow Bottom. Gene set "Song of the Cardinal" and "At the Foot of the Rainbow" at this location.
Enjoy some of the photographs of the hike. We will be sharing some of the poems created that day in a later blog. It was a group of talented poets.
Photo of the poetry group in front of one of the Giant Sycamore of Rainbow Bottom.
Group begins hiking with Curt pointing out interesting things along the way.
Some obedient plants were still blooming.
A beaver chewed this small tree down.
Bald cypress tree. The Friends of the Limberlost own this preserve and have planted trees on it.
The poison ivy is turning red.
Interpretive signs placed in 2018 by the Friends of the Limberlost with a grant from the Indiana Historical Society and the Lilly Endowment.
There is just a touch of fall color in the trees.
Our native wild cucumber. Everyone had a chance to hold it.
.Bridge at Rainbow Bottom.
Trees of Rainbow Bottom.
Curt leads the group to the first giant sycamore tree. This tree would have been there in Gene Stratton-Porter's time.
Ever the gentleman, Curt spreads a tarp for those that want to crawl into the tree.
How many adults can fit into a tree? Four were in the tree at this time.
Melissa Fey took this picture of the group of four in the tree. It was warmer in the tree than outside.
Exploring a second large sycamore tree. Each tree has its own personality.
Melissa inside the sycamore.
The hike ended at the Ceylon Covered Bridge. The poetry group was going to meet at the bridge but with the chilly temperatures, it was decided to have the workshop at the the Carriage House at Limberlost State Historic Site.
Thank you to Shari Wagner and Curt Burnette and to all that participated.
Saturday, October 5, Naturalist Curt Burnette led a hike at the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve which began at the Deacon's Trail. This is a rare look at some of the areas of the wetland that cannot be seen from the road and spend part of the year underwater.
This is the area where Gene Stratton-Porter did her vulture studies and inspired her to set her novel "Freckles."
The following photos were taken by Randy Lehman. We hope that you will enjoy your Limberlost hike!
Signs of beavers. Beaver stick cache.
Flower-of-the-hour with a sulphur butterfly.
Bee hive in a tree.
The dead ash trees stand out among the living trees.
Monarch on ironweed.
Great blue heron on the Lobolly Creek.
Melissa, Curt and Cheryl
Old bridge abutment
Hiking through the woods.
Sea of grass; this area was underwater in the spring of the year.
We hope you have enjoyed your walk at the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve. It is the largest of the preserves in the Limberlost Conservation Area.
Ode to the Loblolly Marsh
The Marsh is marvelous, too marvelous for words.
The grasses swaying in the breeze
Put my heart and soul at ease.
Each little bird with its song of cheer
Brings to my heart a message dear.
The eagle perched, or soaring in the sky,
Brings to my mind the thought,
Oh, that it could be I!
Vultures, beautiful in their ugliness,
Scavenge bodies in an acts of cleanliness.
The birds and bees,
The flowers and the trees
Amidst the constant strife,
Work in unison to spin the web of life.
The Monarch, Buckeye, Viceroy, and Painted Lady
Are spreading life where sunny or shady.
The worms and bugs,
The beetles and the flies,
Perform a thankless job
Upon which our life relies.
The wetlands and the forests,
The prairies and the hills
And all the creatures great and small,
Make you, Oh Lob,
A sacred place for all.
September 15, 2019
Click the "Download File" button below for a copy of the "Ode to the Loblolly" PowerPoint filled with breathtaking photos of the Loblolly:
By Adrienne Provenzano, Songstress of the Limbelost
Gene Stratton-Porter is better known as a naturalist, photographer, and author than as a poet. She enjoyed writing poems throughout her life and turned more and more to that genre in her later years. Field o' My Dreams: The Poetry of Gene Stratton-Porter, is a comprehensive 2007 scholarly work by Mary DeJong Obuchowski, and a resource I've turned to many times, as it gathers all of Stratton-Porter's known poetry along with insightful commentary. In recent years, former Indiana Poet Laureate, Shari Wagner, has shared her own poetry at the Limberlost and facilitated engaging writing workshops for children and adults, the results of which have been shared online by the Friends of the Limberlost
Last month, I had the privilege of portraying Gene Stratton-Porter at the Limberlost State Historic Site on what would have been her 156th birthday, August 17, 2019. I spent most of the day in the lovely music room of the Limberlost Cabin, speaking with tour groups and providing brief musical selections throughout the day.
I also asked for suggestions from visitors for words or phrases about nature. I planned to later combine these contributions into a collaborative poem and share it on the Friends of the Limberlost website and Facebook page. One of the visitors recited a poem "Be Like the Bird" which she recalled learning during elementary school. A most appropriate literary work to recite in the home of Gene Stratton-Porter, also known as The Bird Woman! Readers familiar with Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost may recall that The Bird Woman is a prominent character in both novels by Stratton-Porter and Limberlost Cabin also plays an important part!
Below, I've included one of the many translations for the "Be Like the Bird" poem, written by French author Victor Hugo. While the original French refers to a male bird, I've also found translations which depict the bird as female, so I've included both options. The poem resulting from collaboration with visitors follows. Thank you all for keeping the spirit of creativity alive at Limberlost Cabin!
"Be Like the Bird"
By Victor Hugo
Be like the bird who,
Resting in his (her) flight
On twig too slight,
Feels it give way beneath him (her),
Knowing he (she) hath wings.
A Peaceful Place
A Collaborative Poem by the Songstress of the Limberlost (Adrienne Provenzano) and Visitors to Limberlost Cabin, August 17, 2019
A peaceful place,
Beautiful trees and brilliant birds.
Colors of red and blue.
When the eagles fly,
They create peaceful place for meditation.
Be like the bird.
Create a peaceful place.
Thank you to Bill Hubbard for the pictures taken on August 17, 2019.
Sunset at the Loblolly Marsh Nature Preserve August 2019 by Terri Gorney.
Ceylon Bridge, the last covered bridge on the Wabash River. Photo by Bill Hubbard.
.Kingbird. Photo by Bill Hubbard.
Bald Eagle. Photo by Bill Hubbard.
Wabash River, east side of Geneva. Gene Stratton-Porter called this area "Paradise on the Wabash." Photo by Terri Gorney.
We hope you will enjoy this late summer walk along the Tree Trail at the Loblolly Marsh Nature Preserve. The woods and the Tree Trail is owned by the Friends of the Limberlost. Thank you to all those that have made this trail possible. A special thanks to Bill Hubbard for volunteering for the Friends and for identifying the trees.
Looking up into the tree canopy.
Early goldenrod growing along the trail.
The first tinge of fall color in the leaves.
Photos by Terri Gorney.
Bird Breeding Survey
By Alexandra ("Alex") Forsythe
For several years I've been responsible for the U.S.G.S. Breeding Bird Survey in Berne. The BBS is conducted across the country in late May through early July - after the migratory birds have passed through and only the breeding birds remain. The intent of the survey is to determine the trends in the bird populations. Are the populations of invasive species like house sparrows growing exponentially? Are the birds breeding further north due to global warming? Are formerly rare birds making a comeback? The data collected by each surveyor is entered into a national database giving us answers to these and other questions by providing a more complete picture of the trends across the country.
Surveyors are experienced birders who can identify birds accurately, not just by sight, but also by ear. Often the birds can only be heard, so knowing the vocalizations of each species is important in order to record thorough results.
Each surveyor has a prescribed route of 25 miles with 50 testing points at about every half mile. The route and testing points are set at the national level, so they unfortunately miss some of the best birding sites like Limberlost. At each testing point, the surveyor has just 3 minutes to record every species and the number of individual birds within a quarter mile of that location, along with the number of cars passing by, the wind speed, cloud cover, and temperature. Testing is supposed to begin at exactly one-half hour before sunrise. There were testing places along my route that were noisy and somewhat dangerous due to traffic, and the people I encountered ranged from curious to suspicious about my presence.
My route (#35020) took me through mostly farmland, although there were some wooded areas, creeks, ponds, and grasslands now and then. There were certain locations where I could always depend on certain birds to be nesting year after year, and there were some surprises now and then. Some of the highlights, especially in the beginning, were Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-eyed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Chimney Swift, Vesper Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Orchard oriole, Wood Duck, and Dickcissel. As the years went on, however, the trends I noticed on my route were striking and saddening. Some of the bird species could no longer be found. I could relate to the feelings of despair that Gene felt a she watched helplessly while her beloved swamp was destroyed in the name of progress.
When I first conducted the survey, I was delighted to find Bobolinks in a grasslands, Rough-winged Swallows under a lightly-wooded bridge, and bluebirds nesting at a farmhouse. In later years, the grasslands were mowed down and turned into cow pasture and cropland, so the bobolinks were no more. The trees were chopped down to make more farmland so the swallows disappeared. The house with the bluebird nesting boxes changed hands and the new owners had no interest in birds, so house sparrows took over.
The variety of species diminished in such a short span of time due to just a few changes in land use. Watching the effect made me appreciate places like Limberlost all the more. With birds losing ground to "progress", having a reliable habitat like Limberlost becomes critically important to the survival of many species of birds mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and plants.
This year, I'm passing the torch to Terri Gorney - Limberlost historian and modern day Gene. I am hoping that during her tenure, people become more aware of the interconnected nature of the planet; when one species disappears we are all affected. Gene knew this, and the Friends know this. Hopefully someday soon everyone will understand how important it is to preserve habitats so that future generations will be able to enjoy the sight and sounds of Gene's beloved feathered friends.
Wood Duck by Kimberley Roll
Vesper Sparrow by Kimberley Roll
Gene Stratton-Porter wrote the poem "The Lights of Lincoln Park." It was the last poem in Mary DeJong Obuchowski's book Field O'My Dreams: the Poetry of Gene Stratton Porter. The poem was not published in Gene's lifetime.
In August 2019, Terri Gorney uncovered that the verse was written and read by Gene on May 17 1921 at the celebration of the turning on of electric lights at Lincoln Park in Los Angeles.
Adrienne Provenzano did some research and discovered that Lincoln Park was first known as Eastlake. She found the photographs included after Gene's poem.
We hope that knowing the background story of the poem will give one greater appreciation and enjoyment in reading the poem.
The Lights of Lincoln Park
Los Angeles is saucy jade,
Shaking down her golden hair,
To veil the splendour of her face,
High set on mountains fair.
Her lips are sweet pomegranate bloom,
Her fingers beckoning canyons meet,
Her knees in radiant gardens bend,
The sea frolics at her feet.
Her great heart beats with pulsing throes,
Her million small hearts feel,
The brocades of her ruffled skirts,
All tropic wealth reveal.
She wears upon her eagre breast,
An emerald of wondrous green,
Quaint carved with oak and pepper tree,
With swamp and lillied lake serene.
A jewel raying diamond lights,
Like fallen stars smiting the dark.
Lean low and tell me, Father Abraham,
Don't you truly love your park?
This picture of Eastlake is from the California Historical Society's collection.
Photograph from the Los Angeles Library photograph collection.
Photograph from the California Historical Society's collection.
Charles and Geneva
The man behind the woman of the Limberlost mails her love letters for three years before they marry. She wears slacks when she carries her box camera into the loblolly. This woman who keeps stuffed eagles and herons in her writing room. He wears a bowtie and a gentleman's hat in a photograph of his baseball team. Covers his face with a perfumed scarf to pose vulture chicks for her photographs. He finds gas in the lob to pay for her cabin. Hires a handyman to build her limestone fence. When she preserves marsh moths on black velvet, he mounts her collection on a wall across from their bed. Their lawn abounds with coneflowers and daylilies. With the acrobatics of cardinals and wrens. Every evening a parrot flits from writing room to conservatory. Every story she writes begins with flight across a blank page.
By Michael Brockley
After Shiloh. After I'd seen too many cornfields razed by cannon balls. After the hollers of men dying slow and hard, I aimed at the Rebel colors, closed my eyes, and squeezed the trigger. By the time the Porters hired me as groundskeeper, I'd already failed to husband my wife and father my children. They gave me a room beside a stable with stirrups and buggy whips close to hand, and a small bed where loneliness might find comfort. The Bird Woman set me to building a fence around the cabin. I stacked limestone blocks but left gaps in the wall so chickadees and wrens could perch in the hollow spaces. A man can find a certain peace from stacking stones. From currying a carriage horse. From auguring holes for the martins in a birdhouse built from scraps. In the evenings I sat in a breezeway, waiting, for my war ghosts to settle the trouble in their souls. Once, a Carolina parakeet swooped through the boundary wall. I never saw it again.
By Michael Brockley
A Tour Guide Day at the Limberlost Cabin
I open the Cabin,
I say, "Good Morning."
I say it low in case someone hears me.
Room by room I walk,
Flipping switches on and off.
Down comes the Closed sign.
Swish, swish, swish.
Check the rooms.
Set the thermostat.
A car parks.
Sometimes just one traveler.
Friends of the Friends.
Fans of stories written long ago.
Or just the Curious.
I tell the Porter story.
I introduce Gene, Charles and Jeannette
Room by room,
Story by story.
The Cabin plays its part.
The stories live.
The Porters live.
The visitors visit the past.
The Porters make new friends.
The guests leave.
Up goes the Closed sign.
Room by room I walk,
Flipping switches off and on.
Doors are locked.
I say, "Good Night."
I say it low in case someone hears me.
By Jeanne E. Akins
Silk butterfly on a writer's desk,
Ink well and pen close by,
who would guess you were designed
To wipe the ink pen dry?
Beautiful and soft
Too lovely to be ever used--
No ink marks are revealed.
Silk butterfly I'm glad,
Your owner was so wise,
To keep your beauty all in tact
To bless my happy eyes.
By Jeanne E. Akins
Shari Wagner Gardens
I'm plumbing poems
from your hearts
Letting the words
Find their way out
Turning the soil
In creative gardens
The same way I plowed
And planted my own one
Together we'll harvest our written thoughts
Onto pages replete
With the words crafted
To make a word feast.
By Jeanne E. Akins
Gene's Cricket Boot Jack - I
Most of your critters are light and they flutter,
But I am quite still: your heavy de-mudder.
A cricket of iron with two forward sprouts,
I'm here to relieve you of boots that 'been out.
By Stacia Gorge
Gene's Cricket Book Jack - II
she wore leather
in the swamp.
You stood ready
By Stacia Gorge
Place where magic gathers. Green winged
Being standing TALL, s p r e a d i n g w i d e
across their pews striving to touch the Light!
We bathe in life their vibrant overflow
Plants, trees, flowers in the conservatory
of the Stratton-Porter home.
By Karen Powell
Burled Wood Bureau
(or Timber Tension in the Limberlost)
CONSERVE these trees and wetlands of the Limberlost!
PRESERVE the butterflies, birds, and moths!
DESERVE now I the finest furniture and wood ply
that money made from my cries can by.
Once in flight,
Thanks to your bullet
I plummeted----old school style,
Which means you don't get up again
Even after the gamer reaches
the next level.
By Karen Powell
Charlie's Arrowhead Collection
Stone points no longer hunting.
Objects hidden under soil for years now seeing the light of day.
Hours spent walking the fields to find.
Tedious chipping of stone on stone.
A man's appreciation of an ancient craft.
Placing the points in a pleasing display.
A collection made in the 1900s of Points crafted thousands of years before.
By Melissa Fey
(A Land that I Love)
A magical place of land and waters where birds and bugs abound.
The sounds of nature, babbling brooks and calling birds,
Where native plants reclaim the deserted farmlands.
A place migrating birds rest before continuing their flight.
A place of quiet woods and forest floor,
Along with sunlit prairies full of blooms.
The stillness of Winter, blanketed in snow.
Frost etching patterns on the ice.
Wind forming mounds out of the snow.
Unseen animals leaving tracks to follow.
By Melissa Fey
Moths and Gene
Moths, delicate creatures, erratic flight and beautiful in color.
Gene's fascination and waiting patiently for them to light.
Moths that only come out at night in the soft moonlight.
Gene excited to see her favorite Cecropia moth.
Moths feeding on sweet smelling nectar.
Gene expanding the world's knowledge of these smallest of God's creatures.
By Melissa Fey
(A short ode to a male moth that thought it was finding a mate only to discover Gene Stratton Porter
ripe with spraying of pheromones from a female moth)
Is that a mate I smell?
From far away he flies,
He cannot tell
And hopes the wind won't lie.
He arrives to find
Not the love he expects
Just a lady so kind
No reward for his treks.
By Melissa Fey
Poetry created at "Inside Gene Stratton-Porter's Cabin" Poetry Workshop by Shari Wagner on July 13 2019.
The volunteers and staff of Limberlost