Fire and flood have come and gone, and a crescendo of green has filled the meadows, woods and pools of Nahant Marsh. The replanted prairies are especially beautiful. Living examples of once common plants, the first of the green and growing time’s waves of bloom is well underway. The color of full on spring is crowded with purple and blue spiderwort, and sprinkled with white anemones and pale foxglove.
The dominate blues and purples will soon be rivaled by the pinks of the pale pink and purple coneflower. They are just beginning to make ready for their bloom, and there are a great many of them. Peak bloom is and will continue to be lovely. It must have been an amazing sight to see a prairie stretching to the horizon while blooming like it does on these small meadows.
Not all of the plants at Nahant are tall grass prairie natives. A great many invasive species are here, some aggressively taking over where ever they can. Goats were brought in for a few weeks to see how they do in clearing choked undergrowth. They speedily ate their way through yellow clover, garlic mustard, mulberry, grape vines, poison ivy, even thistles! Time will be the test to see if native species can reclaim the cleared areas.
Life is resilient though, that has already been seen to be the case. With a little care and a little leaving alone, Nahant Marsh is able to be home and incubator to a surprising variety of life. The wood ducks are once again raising families…indeed the prairies, woods and pools are full of new families. The beavers are also busy, and like many of the marsh’s creatures, seem unconcerned by the surrounding city.
It is a lively, green and growing time. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Spring has been a time of great changes at Nahant Marsh. Winter lingered this year, and the usual spring green up was held back by the cold, the snow and the fringe of ice clinging to the marsh. A pair of sandhill cranes, perhaps the same ones that stayed at the marsh last season, are back. It is encouraging that even surrounded by an urban environment, nevertheless, Nahant Marsh offers enough to attract a pair of cranes.
Before the green up, portions of prairie were burned. The fire was tended, coaxed into some areas, blocked out from other areas, and allowed to run free only where it suited the fire team. Flames moved quickly through the dry vegetation, leaving wide open, blackened fields with a light sprinkling of gray ash.
The burned fields were green within a week—except for the lower meadows which were submerged by this spring’s flood. As the Mississippi River rose, the river water came rushing into the marsh. The dock became an island, the partially inundated boardwalk floating somewhat on the water.
And so another dramatic transformation of the landscape happened right before my eyes. The many pools and ponds of the marsh merged into a large expansive lake. The woods became flooded forests. Ducks swam on the flooded prairies. The land that remained above the water also changed dramatically, turning green all in a rush. It seemed that after being held in check overly long by the lingering winter, the time had come to suddenly turn green. It is spring in the marsh after all. The woods are full of warblers, flocks of swallows dance swiftly over the water, pelicans and cormorants hunt the fish that poured in with the river.
The green is filling in fast and changing the landscape. I wonder if I had the luxury of sitting still long enough if I might not actually be able to see it grow…