November 18, 2020 was a mixed-up weather day. You know the kind, where cold rain chills you to the bone while soaking jean legs below raincoat. Then, suddenly the clouds drift with the wind and sunlight brightens the day. In spite of the threat of weather, we agreed to hike around the 140 acres, a tour led by Dan with Dixie the dog running guard. Donna and I were along for the adventure.
Dan Reitman knows his landscape and relishes the subtle changes as the terrain slowly shifts from one micro ecosystem to the next. His conservation landowner’s pride shines in his eyes and flows in the intonation of his voice. He talked of transplant survival and wetland indicators, like water ponding on soil. He knows the growth patterns of local native plants, such as wild rose, hawthorn, ash, rushes, and sedges. And, like any conservation landowner, he knows, all too well, about invasive Armenian blackberries.
During the hike, he would ask questions. Sometimes we were able to shed a little light on his thoughts. Why do the oaks grow so well on the knoll by the road? Perhaps, it is the slightly higher elevation and better drained soil. Why are the ash seedlings not thriving in soggy soils near the creek? Maybe deer browse or root gnawing by the residents of seemingly myriad vole holes.
The clouds opened and let the sunshine warm us. Above Dan’s head, a rainbow arched over his pot of gold; his land, his dedication, and his pride.