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Ranger Notes

American Robins

April 2022

Bird on the ground with yellow beak and red breastAs a San Antonio native, a city girl, I hold my nature memories close. The first bird I ever identified was the American robin.

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Let's go on an Adventure!

March 2022

Partially destroyed turtle shellI found myself in the small patch of forest by my house. My daughter was walking ahead of me, alongside the creek. She could sense my hesitation and prodded me, "Come on Mommy, let's explore!"

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Protecting Black Walnut Trees

February 2022

Cut-open walnutDid you know that black walnut trees are illegally poached in the United States? As timber prices soar, a single black walnut tree can be worth $50,000!

This tree is critical to our hardwood forests and ecosystems. The Walnut Ridge Unit part of our park gets its name from this tree.

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Mother Trees

January 2022

Small, red mushroom colony

"Ranger Amy, what is a Mother Tree?" A tall teenage girl asked me this question as we walked along the shady trail.

Moments earlier, I had been kneeling on the ground, pointing out some mushrooms.

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A Longing for the Past

December 2021

Raccon looking at cameraAs a rule, I try to live in the present moment. I love to go for walks to reset, recalibrate, and calm my mind. That’s why parks are great! They’re an open space that we can use to guide ourselves back to our present.

So why do I stop during my walks and imagine the world as it was 100, 200, 500, 800 years ago? Why do I keep trying to open windows into the natural history of what this land once looked like?

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Seeds of Hope

November 2021

handful of seedsAs I collect seeds from my garden, I can’t help but love them. They are beautiful.

They’re the beginning of a life, but they’re more than the embryo of a plant. A seed is the possibility of that life, and all the other lives that will be entangled and attached to it.

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Frassfall

October 2021

closeup of a piece of frassI was about half a mile into the woods on the Whitetail Trail. As I walked, I repeated my morning mantra, “Come back, come back, come back…to this moment.”

I paused, listening to what sounded like tiny raindrops. They hit the leaves above me and fell softly, tap, tap, tap, tap, onto the dusty trail. I closed my eyes and took a moment to savor the sound.

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Who Am I?

September 2021

Large white bird walking in tall grass My name is Chrissy. I’m a bird, but not one of those small birds that flits along the treetops singing sweet little songs. I also don’t eat roadkill or swoop down fast to catch my food.

I’m a tall bird that wanders around prairies and fields. I prefer to be in the company of hooved animals such as cows or deer.

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Nature's Indicators

August 2021

Small bird on a beachWe mark our movements through this world in many ways. As children, adults tell us when to go to bed, when to wake up, when to eat, when to dress warm and when to dress in cooler clothes. As adults, we use clocks, calendars, and news reports or phone apps to help us navigate our way through life.

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Elderberries

July 2021

Elderberry bloom stalkGrowing along wet culverts in the park you’ll find elderberry trees in bloom. You could call them a tree or a shrub since they don’t get very tall: 10 feet, give or take. This June we saw their clusters of small white flowers blooming throughout the wet areas of the park.

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Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road?

June 2021

Turtle in the grassIt’s that time of the year when you’ll see turtles crossing roads. What are they doing? Is the water bluer on the other side of the road?

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit

May 2021

Tall, slender bloomKeep an eye out for this unique plant when walking the park’s trails and roadsides.

During the month of April and May, Jack-in-the-pulpits sprout and can get up to 3 feet tall.

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Deer Vomit!

April 2021

Tree trunk with orange slime running down itWhen the weather is wet and temperatures cool, you might see a bright orange slime on muscadine grapevines. Is this deer vomit or some sort of excrement from a wild animal?

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Spiders, Spiders Everywhere

March 2021

Spider web on forest floorI don’t think about spiders too often. As a park ranger, I’m used to spiders. When I encounter a spiderweb across my face or in my hair, it’s second nature to utter an apology to the spider and keep doing whatever I was doing.

Until one encounters a spider, they usually go unnoticed. But spiders are essential predators in the web of life.

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Insect House

January 2021

Insect house with compartments holding different natural materialsThis past month I did a lot of work in the wildflower gardens around the nature center. I wanted to move an insect house from one location to another, but I wasn’t sure who was currently using it. I had to proceed carefully.

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Past Ranger Notes