This is about land. Land that I do not own, yet, I have called it home for almost sixty-six years. It is about a sense of ownership that comes with living in an area for that long and absorbing its history, its inhabitants, its beauty, till it all becomes an integral part of one’s life.
This land spills over Spangler Road as the blacktop winds its way south from Medway to west of Fairborn. How many miles? I do not know, for in its earlier life the road was severed into two pieces by the building of I-675. But that big, long, interstate road will never give a sense of ownership to anyone. Not like Spangler Road and its land.
And water; Mad River runs under its Union Road bridge, the old mill race runs under its Medway bridge and throughout its acreage lays Wenrick Wetlands. Water is essential for life and this land that I call home is full of life.
Spring is the best time to see and hear all that is happening on this land. Where to start? Pick a spot anywhere along the established trail in the wetlands. You can begin the walk at the Union Road parking lot. Take a portable, light-weight chair. Trust me, the wildlife and birds will not mind at all if you sit quietly in their home. It’s the best way to get to see and know them.
A few minutes of sitting is all it takes to hear Canadian geese honk, a squabble among resident mallards and a tapping high above as a downy woodpecker searches for food in tree bark. He’ll move up one tree and across to the next and next; you can sense his success as the tapping stops for a few minutes.
Behind you a Carolina wren sings his spring song; who can resist stopping all thought and just soaking up that song? Song sparrows, robins and cardinals add their own melodies. Have you settled into that chair, intent on catching everything going on? Yes, hours can be spent sitting in this home place, learning from its residents.
Along the trail ahead of you, something slithers across from log to log-a garter snake. A tiny twinge of fear is quickly allayed by the fact that this thin, green snake is no doubt on a mission which does not include anything close to you. He and his offspring are excellent swimmers and thus quite suited to live on this land.
While your eyes are locked in on the earth around you, yellow river flowers are spied. These small, waxy, yellow flowers are actually the Lesser Celandine herb that grows profusely in this home. The land is richly carpeted in early spring: river banks become mounds of sunshine, walkways are lined with yellow ribbons of it, park entrances are festooned with its low-growing bouquets. With a closer look we find wood violets, May apples, cut leaf toothwort, anemone, spring beauties, leafed out wild rose bushes still holding on to a few reddish hips from last year.
It’s time to move on; take the chair and find a spot deeper into this land. A belted kingfisher cries out over the trees as he works at building a nest. Red-bellied woodpeckers sound off as if to let the fisher know not to get too close to their tree. Already they are gathering material for their own housekeeping endeavors. A great blue heron rookery is well established in their own chosen trees. This land provides a rich abundant food source for their young.
Later we decide to visit some of the land from the back door, so to speak. Medway Park on the corner of Main and Spangler is a tiny area where one can park, view the old mill race waters as they make their way under the bridge and across to more homeland. Here as well as in the inner most confines, you will see evidence of beavers. They find this land especially appealing with water, water everywhere. Some of this west acreage was acquired by the Clark County Park District and is included in future preservation efforts.
Another portion of land including Leadingham Prairie and newly acquired acreage along Mad River (over 200 acres in all) needed a name. You know, all rooms of a home have names. Recently, the Park District gave the community an opportunity to name the new park. We were privileged to have a small part in that, along with Sunshine Tester and her family. (See Clark County Park District’s Facebook page)
The area will now be known as Spangler Nature Preserve. It teams with wildlife, butterflies and the endangered Prairie Fringed orchid. You can find wonderful photos of this beauty on the Buckeye Botanist website or floraofohio.blogspot.com besides the Clark County Park District’s website, clarkcountyparks.org.
But frankly, websites are only a screen with a beautiful picture on it. To visit this home, my home, come in person. Be prepared to stay a while. Sit and listen, as it tells you all that is going on, all that is held within its centuries of life, all that is dear to its heart and mine.