President’s Letter: Dog Days of Summer
The dog days are a common reference to the hottest and longest days of the year. The ancient Greeks noticed the star Sirius, which they dubbed the Dog Star, is the brightest in the constellation Canis Major (Latin for greater dog). Those observant Greeks also noticed that Sirius appears to rise alongside the sun in late July. They believed the combined power of these stars is what made this the hottest time of the year. I’m willing to bet that most Midwesterners have our most nostalgic memories from our summer months. Hanging out with friends, vacations, sports, pool days, and family picnics are easily plucked from my summer memories. Everybody appears to be busy… including Mother Nature.
Taking a walk along the trail during the dog days you will notice… dogs… yes, this is true, even if it’s a terrible Dad joke. Antics aside, it’s a great time of year to observe the many gardens along the trail. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the blue and brilliant flowers that the Ohio Spiderwort produces, but their flowering period is coming to an end. The purple coneflowers, however, remain strong, and likely will throughout the summer. Butterfly Weed is in its window of bloom and its distinct color can be seen throughout the trail. The butterfly garden is a hidden gem and should be sought out when in the area. Our volunteer gardeners take great pride in their work. Something will always be in bloom that is pleasant to the eye.
We are lucky to have volunteers that are talented and hardworking. This doesn’t involve just planting flora for aesthetics and cutting grass. The arboretum demonstrates a commitment to ecological restoration, and we have projects currently underway. Restoration can be difficult because we seem to be in a never-ending battle with invasive species such as honeysuckle and wild parsnip. Queen Anne’s lace is also fighting for space on the trail’s edge. They do such a good job of outcompeting native species. Most of us can identify these pretty easily, but removing them long-term is very challenging.
Finally, I’m pleased to report trail counters are now located in three strategic locations on our trail. We plan to use this data to justify trail infrastructure and to help educate local citizens and government about future trail needs.
My two sons are leaving today for a weeklong soccer camp. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 90s throughout the week. I know years from now they will remember these dog days of camp, but they will reflect with positive memories despite the heat. You see, they are planting their seeds of nostalgia. They most often come from being outside. I’ll encourage everyone reading this to get outside as much as possible this summer. Build some good memories and reflect on some old ones. Hopefully you can find your way onto the PCA trail soon. Enjoy this summer, because as we all know, they never seem to last long enough.