Located slightly west of Interstate 55 on the north shore of the Meramec River, Lower Meramec Park is open to the public year round. Several miles of paved and unpaved trails traverse the area providing all-weather opportunities to see the diversity of plants and wildlife that inhabit the area.
In the fall of 2006, I was slowly convinced that it was time to get a dog. But not just any dog. I wanted a "BIG" dog. One that you didn't have to bend over to pet. In December of 2006, we got Bogey (a.k.a. Bogart). For the next couple of years I took him for his walk down by the Meramec Greenway and Lower Meramec Park. I never paid much attention to the natural beauty that surrounded us on every trip. A friend of mine passed away in September of 2009 and it made me slow down, observe and enjoy my surroundings. I started to photograph the flora and fauna, sharing the pictures with close friends and relatives. This book contains a small sample of the unbelievable beauty and diversity in this small area. When I started taking photos of the Meramec Greenway it was the Fall season of 2009. We experienced dramatic changes in both temperature and color with almost every trip. As the season progressed, there appeared to be fewer things of interest to photograph. With the arrival of Winter, the leaves were all gone, many of the birds took off for the warmer temperatures down south, and the landscape became gray and monochromatic. The relatively wet Fall of 2009 caused the swampy area in the trees to remain full of water. During one particularly cold stretch in January, the high temperatures during the daylight hours only reached into the single digits. Nighttime lows were well below zero for over a week. As a result, the swamp froze over completely. The ice was over 6 inches thick and easily supported our weight as Bogey and I walked across the area that only a few short days before was under 1-2 feet of water. The angle of the Winter sun's rays and the reflections off the ice struck me as unique and beautiful. Bogey and I were "Out On The Ice" enjoying a scene that only lasted a few days. Within a week the temperature went up and the ice became too thin. The quick change in the landscape reinforced the need to take photos every day. Miss just one day and you may lose a scene forever. I hope you enjoy sharing what this man and his trusty dog have seen over the past year.
This book, laid out chronologically by season, begins with Winter.
As you can see, the
black and white photos enhance the darkness of the landscape and convey a feeling of cold and the absence of life. However, there is still beauty in the cold and quiet.
Even on the coldest days, color reveals itself in many places. I remember thinking when it was 5 degrees, "No need to take the camera today, there won't be anything worth seeing." The rings in the frozen puddle above form as the level of the water changes. The brilliant red of the Cardinal is a beautiful contrast to the crisp white snow. Early morning frost crystallizes along the edges of everything on the ground.
Bogey Spring (my name for it, I do not know if it has a given name) runs year round regardless of the temperature. This provides a ready water supply for the local wildlife during all four seasons.
Eventually, Winter releases its grasp and a little glimpse of green can be seen poking through the ground. As the temperature climbs, the increased run off from Bogey Spring floods the low lying area. You will see the growth of the swamp and the rapid change in the plant life in the upcoming pages.
The newly budding trees and the fresh grass along the mowed trails are the first signs that Spring is really here. When the White Clover and Redbud begin to flower, the air smells sweeter, the sun is warmer, color is back and Spring has sprung. Even the swamp that was dark and gray a couple weeks prior starts to green up and change its look.
Blue Morning Glory
During the Spring season there is a great variety of flowering plants and wildlife activity. Some plants and animals are prolific in the area and others are in the area for only a short time. The scenery changes daily with some flowers lasting only a couple of days.
your camera every time so as not to miss anything new. Red Tailed Hawk
Western Ribbon Snake
White Tailed Deer
Wild Sweet Pea
Star of Bethlehem
Juvenile Great Horned Owls
Yellow Sweet Clover
Harbinger of Spring
Great Blue Heron
Adult Great Horned Owl
The abundant water supply, both in and around the swamp, provides for lush growth. Vibrant greens and crisp yellows create a wonderful contrast.
This section of the Greenway is predominantly a flood plain. Heavy Spring rains inundate the low lying areas making it a little harder to access.
The flood waters create some additional water ways for the local fauna to enjoy.
Musk Thistle (full flower)
Venusâ€™ Looking Glass
Musk Thistle (pre-flower stage)
As the temperature rises, the algae in the swamp hits its peak. Everything is coated in a chartreuse slime.
Wild Potato Vine
Arrowhead Plant (a.k.a. Duck Potato)
A wide variety of colorful mushrooms and fungi fill the area.
Tortoise Shell Moth
Little Blue Heron
Prairie Mimosa Seed Pod
Sheep Sorrel & White Heath Aster
Queen Anneâ€™s Lace
Northern Fog Fruit
As the Fall season approaches, the colors begin to change and the flowers drop their petals and turn to seeds and fruit. The nights are cooler but the days are still warm. During the Fall of 2009, we had very warm daytime temperatures with little rainfall. The color of the leaves was affected by the lack of moisture and the absence of frost. Because it was so dry, the normally vibrant fall colors were muted.
Poison Ivy Berries
Horse Nettle Fruit
Field of Pinkweed
Eastern Red Cedar
Swamp in Fall
Dry Creek Bed
With very little green left, the predominant colors change to browns, reds and golds as we head toward late Fall and early Winter.
Most of our walks around the Greenway take place during the daylight hours. On a few occasions Bogey and I do venture out at sunset or after dark. Owls hooting, coyotes howling and other night sounds can give you an eerie feeling. On nights when the moon is full, there is plenty of light to illuminate the path.
Ready for Home