Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Thriving Marsh at Princeton High School

All the finest native wetland wildflowers of the DR Canal, Carnegie Lake, Rogers Refuge and Mountain Lakes continue to thrive in that walled-in marvel of serendipity called the PHS Ecolab. The "PHS Ecolab" sounds like a ship, and it is in a way, an ark that survives flooding just fine but whose long term botanical prosperity and diverse portfolio of native species depends on the sweet, cool waters that flow from Princeton's version of Old Faithful--the sump pump that delivers doses of water from the high school basement every fifteen minutes or so, day in, day out. Yes, when the day is done, the property taxes paid, and Princeton's mood turns to romance without finance, many an evening walk begins with "Honey, lets go watch the sun set over the athletic fields, and see what's blooming in the high school wetland."

On this particular day, peering through the bars is a swamp rose, with a refreshing fragrance that cuts through the summer heat.

Green frogs and crayfish hide amongst the pickerel weed that continue blooming through the summer.

The blooms of lizard's tail don't last as long, but have a jazzier look. Impress your sweetheart by offhandedly pointing out that, unlike pickerel weed, Lizard's tail need not be in standing water to thrive.

See deeper meanings in the miracles a little basement water can work if allowed to see the light of day.

Note, with a knowing nod of the head that suggests great wisdom, that even metaphors for personal growth need tending. As in the story of Noah, there are points along the way where human intervention is necessary, where the natural energy must be steered, lest this highly naturalistic garden tip out of balance. Small interventions, really--countering the imperialistic tendencies of otherwise lovable cattail, pulling out any stiltweed or carpgrass that sneaks in. Maybe undercut the curly dock and plantain if they're getting too numerous on the elevated ground. Pull some of the goldenrod that's leaving no room for the cutleaf coneflower.

Or else, don't mention all the mechanics and let it all seem easy and natural. It is easy, except for a few hours a year, because working with nature rather than against it makes life easier in so many ways.

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