Hike for habitats

I'm going on a habitat walk with Texas Master Naturalist and environmental scientist, Rich Jaynes at the Connemara Meadow Preserve next Saturday. I want to soak up new ideas for teaching about local habitats. How can I integrate that subject into art projects for my preschool and elementary students?

Our family discovered the Connemara Preserve shortly after moving to Plano in 1990, and took many outings to hike, view annual sculpture shows, fly kites, and fall down in muddy spots when my kids were younger. Along with our annual Plano Balloon Festival, Connemara added to the quality of life for Plano residents.

The first Thanksgiving after my divorce, I spent the morning at Connemara, walking alone in the quiet. I found great solace and gratitude. My ex had the boys that holiday. Friends argued for me to be surrounded by people, but I was especially thankful for the solitude, the beauty of the meadow, and time for reflection.

We have to heal in ways that fit our personalities. That particular holiday tramp in the preserve helped me find a new interest and purpose connecting my art lessons with nature and ecology.

We also have to celebrate in ways that fit our individual natures, but it is good to have a little help from our friends. My weekend in Colorado for my son's wedding was a lesson in accepting emotional support from generous extroverts. That gift was offered to me on that long ago Thanksgiving, but I needed the restoring solitude first.

Our school staff recently tried the True Colors personality evaluation. We might have also found our true habitats, if I stretch the idea a bit.

On the Halloween walk we will explore and understand the management plans for the four habitat areas of the Connemara Meadow Preserve:

  • riparian zone along Rowlett Creek that is important as a wildlife corridor
  • floodplain grasslands and wetlands in the lower meadow
  • hedgerows along perimeter and interior fence lines established during agricultural use
  • upland grasslands located in the upper meadow which has a terrace system from earlier agricultural use.
I like the word "riparian". It means the interface between land and a stream or river. Maybe it also means there are wildlife corridors between extroverts and introverts. Who knows what might be in the hedgerows and fence lines? I'm in much better shape for falling into muddy spots than I was a dozen years ago, but I'm still more comfortable in the upland grasslands.

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder

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