Friday, July 30, 2010

exploring an urban wildlife refuge

Or--I should maybe I should call this post--why my feet are so tired.

As my frequent readers will know, I am setting up for the PA Guild of Crafts Show this week-end in Wilmington, DE. A town I have passed hundreds of times on the Interstate, but never stopped in. The show is along their developing new Riverfront along the Christiana River. Well I love rivers and I love adventure so of course after finishing hanging my quilts I had to explore.

Who could resist a sign pointing to an Urban Wildlife Refuge? What is an Urban Wildlife Refuge I wondered? Did it matter that my feet were already tired from set up--nope. It was a nice day and not that far.

When I got there I couldn't believe how much fun it was. I soon learned that the Refuge was named for Russell W. Peterson a former Governor of Delaware who was dedicated to the environment.

The first thing I saw was a wonderful hobbit like tree and stone sculpture that sprawls along the ground and creates a great little cave like structure. Here is one of the roots of the "tree".

And part of the cave like house--it's not scary at all--just a lot of fun. I've seen lots of pictures of small children climbing on it though none were there today.

Isn't that wonderful--almost elephantine? But soon my eye was drawn to the stone spheres. I haven't been able to discover if they were by Andy Goldsworthy--although they do look like his work. The first one has a couple of openings so you can look into it.

It's about my height. Peering inside there is an added space.

Mystical isn't it. The other is a sphere with no openings.

I want one. The neat thing is that it is juxtaposed against a slab of rock that seems almost to float above the surface of the earth. A path takes you across the rock. I hadn't even realized how ethereal it seemed until I crossed it and looked back.

There's lots more to see in this wonderful outdoor installation but I wanted to cross the bridge and go through the building to see the marshes themselves. The bridge takes you up and over the railroad tracks. Yes, this is still a working area of town with real cranes in the distance.  These are fresh water marshes--part of what once was a much larger marshland that was diked and drained beginning in the 1600's. It took over a decade to restore these 212 acres to a more pristine condition--burning part of it to remove invasive species, changing the drainage ditches that had been put in place and letting nature take its course.

There is a quarter mile board walk through the marshes that--of course--I had to follow. Yes, my feet said no but my heart said yes. Who could resist being out in the marshes--seeing the variety of plants. Having the grasses rustle. Lots of birds can be seen.

 Some of the grasses came over my head--and since the board walk is several feet above the water you know they were tall. At other places you were near the bank of the river and could see different plants growing on its banks.

It was getting late and I still had to find the hotel where I did a bit more reading on the internet about this wonderful refuge. It really is right off the I 95--open year round--and even has restroom facilities. Certainly I know I will stop there again--there is a nature center that offers exhibits and walks about this fresh water marsh. I love the outdoor installation--certainly I am thinking of ideas that I can use back home to design our property. For more information you can go here:

Now the only question is how will I ever be able to stay inside at the Craft Show when there is such a treasure so near the fair.

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