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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Getting it right

Today found me accompanying the spouse to the Hidden Gems "mini-festival" at Pearson Metropark in Oregon, Ohio, specifically at the Johlin Cabin wetland restoration area.

At the time of its construction in the mid-1800s, this cabin was an isolated outpost in a marshy clearing of the Great Black Swamp (Northwest Ohio's major ecosystem until the mid-19th century); today it is part of a 600-acre preserve surrounded by residential, industrial, and commercial development, visible in the background of this photo.

Just a few hundred feet from this part of the preserve is a new subdivision of what looks like very expensive housing, while the main commercial strip of Oregon lies just beyond the park's southwestern boundary. In other words, this is truly a metropark.

One inspiring aspect of this place is the vision that created it. During the Great Depression, Toledo Blade reporter George Pearson led a fundraising drive to purchase and preserve the last few hundred acres of the Great Black Swamp. In the early years of our century, 320 acres of farmland were purchased and are currently being restored as wetland; already, after only a decade, the preserve has become a regular stop on the long-distance migrations of many bird species, including the warblers that draw thousands of people to the nearby Magee Marsh every May for The Greatest Week in Birding.

Today, the recreated wetland that was a farm not too many years ago is home to muskrats and mink. Despite the disruption of the park festival going on, the swallows and swallowtails were everywhere, and we were treated to the sight of white herons circling overhead and then vanishing into stands of cattail. Hawks are plentiful, as are dragonflies.

The place is not what it once was, when the swamp stretched for a hundred miles, but it shows what nature can do when humans step back and give it just a little room.

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