Do You Have A Special Place?
After thinking for most of the week about a special place in my life, this morning I made the drive to a location in Northeast Iowa where few people visit, but those who do leave with lasting memories. My memories are not only of the location, but of the many good times spent there with people who are no longer around. The area is not large – only a couple of hundred acres in size. But, what Brush Creek Canyon lacks in area it makes up for in challenges, diversity, and beauty.
I hadn’t visited Brush Creek Canyon for many years. Somehow my spring outings that used to include many wildflower photography sessions transitioned to waterfowl and migratory bird photography, most often accomplished from the seat of my kayak. For some unknown reason a nagging thought crept up many times recently – go hike Brush Creek Canyon again. When the weather forecast looked promising for a pleasant outing this weekend, I made the commitment to walk the grounds that brought back many thoughts of days and people gone by. Just the surroundings put me back in my place…the rugged rock formations that didn’t just “happen” to be there…the steep terrain decorated by delicate wildflowers…the quiet of the timber punctuated by the sound of running water. Brush Creek Canyon has an interesting effect on me. I am humbled when I am there. My mind is cleared of stress and I am taken on an escape. Things I might be worried about are gone, at least for the duration of the visit. Brush Creek Canyon is a special place for me. Do you have a special place? Does your special place take you away, clear your head, and relieve your stress? I hope so…
Brush Creek Canyon challenges visitors with its steep hills and lack of trails. Those who choose to explore the preserve must be prepared for anything – falls, strenuous climbs, slippery descents, and perhaps getting lost. Brush Creek Canyon is not a park, but a preserve. The area has been protected and the flora and fauna thrive in the unique habitat of Brush Creek Canyon.
My outing today was superb. The weather was great, with the sunrise I witnessed the opening of the wildflowers I came to photograph. The mental cleansing of the visit was exceptional. Now I would like to share with you some of the many images created this morning.
Hepatica – Of the flowers I hoped to see and photograph today, the hepatica topped my list. My timing was perfect as the flowers were blooming everywhere I looked.
Dutchman’s Breeches – While Dutchman’s Breeches can be found in many locations, Brush Creek Canyon hosts thousands of the plants with the interesting blossoms.
Wild Ginger – This plant grows low to the ground in rich, moist soil. Portions of Brush Creek Canyon are plentiful with wild ginger, while other areas have none. Plan to lay on the ground, in the dirt, to photograph this interesting plant.
Spring Beauty – Many wild areas in Northeast Iowa are home to Spring Beauty. The pink and white blossoms make the plant easy to find.
False Rue Anemone – Like Spring Beauty, False Rue Anemone is a relatively easy to find and photograph early spring wildflower. Catch them when you can…their blossoms don’t last long.
Bloodroot – This is another plant that is not too difficult to find in Northeast Iowa during early spring. At Brush Creek Canyon, I found only a dozen or so bloodroot plants.
Mayapple – This wildflower is just emerging. In another week or two the broad leaves of the Mayapple will be shading the blossom not far off the ground.
Trillium – These were new finds for me at Brush Creek Canyon. I found three plants and plan to return when the blossoms are visible.
Fern Fronds – Now that the snow seems to be gone, the ferns are beginning to come up. I think ferns present with very interesting patterns.
Crimson Cup Fungus – Of the many wild places I visit, none have as many Crimson Cup fungus as Brush Creek Canyon. On this trip I found more of the colorful fungus than I could keep track of. In fact, I quit counting!
Since few people are familiar with Brush Creek Canyon, I thought it might be worthwhile to share a few images of the preserve.
Other wildlife-themed images recorded today featured something to do with death. First, I found this deer skull in the leaf litter as I hiked further into the park. About twenty minutes later I found the rest of the deer carcass.
I found several snail shells scattered around the preserve. I am curious how the snails got where they were and what happened to them.
In what I consider a far corner of the park, where the rappelling post was photographed (see image above), there were a half dozen or so turkey vultures sitting on the ground. When I approached they began to circle low and overhead, as if something bad was going to happen to me.